Council seeks further clarification on Xplornet proposal
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 8, 2018
Algonquin Highlands council is seeking further information before it would sign a contract allowing internet provider Xplornet install equipment on the Dorset tower.
On January, councillors discussed a proposal from the company to enter into a 10-year agreement, where Xplornet would pay the township $6,000 a year to lease the space.
One of council’s main concerns was the length of the proposed contract, with councillors suggesting five or even two years as a more desirable length of time.
Parks, rec and trails manager Chris Card was instructed to follow up with the company.
During a Feb. 1 council meeting, Card told councillors that 10 years was the minimum amount of time Xplornet would agree to, and that the company had indicated that 20 years is actually more a standard lease agreement time.
“That’s the least that they’re willing to sign on for,” he said.
Card had also been asked if the company was willing to co-locate with other companies on a tower. Currently, local company Highlands Internet Services also has a lease agreement with the township and has equipment located on the lookout tower.
Card indicated the company was fine with co-location, but Marlene Kyle was concerned about a clause in the draft contract that sounded like it would give Xplornet authority over whom could locate equipment on the structure.
“The licensor, through the granting of the agreement, represents to the licensee that the licensee is the sole communications entity permitted by the licensor to access the premises,” that clause reads. “No other communications entity may co-locate on the premises without first obtaining prior written consent from the licensee that shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
Councillors took exception to that clause, with Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen saying it needed to be made clear that the township would retain control over who could install equipment on the tower.
“I’d hate to see us put somebody out of business by doing this,” Danielsen said.
Card said Xplornet was hoping for a decision that day, as it wanted to complete the work by the end of March.
“Are they going to snowshoe in?” asked Mayor Carol Moffatt. “Do they know that it’s closed.”
The Dorset tower property is open seasonally and Moffatt said she couldn’t foresee the township snow plowing through snowmobile trails located on the property.
As far as the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, which is working on a cell gap project that would eventually likely require towers in the area, chief administrative officer Angie Bird said the biggest concern there was ensuring that no interference would take place.
Card was instructed to take those issues back to Xplornet for further clarification and it’s expected that a contract will be tabled at council’s next meeting.