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Super fast Broadband in Newmarket. Where and when is it going to happen?

Mayor Tony Van Bynen fought last year’s election on a pledge to bring lightning fast broadband to the Town:

“Bringing broadband connectivity to Newmarket is essential as technology plays an increasingly bigger role in our daily lives. A robust internet infrastructure is as essential to our economic future as rivers, railways, and roads were to our past. We are working towards connecting with Orion & Canarie, a high-speed 10 gig research network by the end of 2014.”

The Town is doing work on this but so too is York Region. In fact, the Region is setting up a Broadband Task Force and will decide on its membership at the Council meeting on Thursday 25 June.

My candidate is Tony Van Trappist but, first, he will have to shake off the torpor that descends on him as soon as he enters the Regional Council Chamber.

He relies on Newmarket staff to do his thinking for him but, nevertheless, broadband was his top priority in last year’s municipal election and that must count for something.

Everyone agrees (I think) that Newmarket needs super-fast broadband but how to make it happen?

The Town’s Committee of the Whole gathered last month (May 19) to chart the way forward.

The Town says it wants

a partner that will invest in the design, construction, ownership and operation of an open access, ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure at affordable rates for residents, businesses and organizations.

Town staff have a partner in mind but, typically, they are not telling us yet.

Three areas – an interconnected corridor – are to be given priority:

(1) Main Street Business District (from Water Street to Davis Drive)

(2) Davis Drive Health/Life Sciences Corridor(from Main Street to Leslie Street)

(3) Leslie Street/Harry Walker Parkway Business Corridor

But should these areas get priority?

Step forward John Heckbert, mortgage broker, indefatigable tweeter and champion of Davis Drive. His deputation of one is well received. He seems to know what he is talking about and that is always a good start.

He wants to know why Main Street with 75 business addresses is getting wired up but not Newmarket’s section of Yonge Street with 200-250 unique business addresses.

I learn there are plans for free wi-fi in Main Street and the Riverwalk Commons area. This is to get “community buy-in” for the super fast broadband initiative.

The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Shelton, says staff is working with the Region. No-one wants to duplicate work that is being done at Regional level. Or, he might have said, take credit for it.

Now Susan Chase, the Town’s Director of IT Innovation, and Christopher Kallio, the Town’s Economic Development Officer are fielding questions.

Christina Bisanz wants details of how the community will benefit. Kelly Broome-Plumbley wants a time line. Will it be cheaper than the service offered by other internet service providers? Joe Sponga is banging the drum for Main Street – there’s lots of innovation there. Dave Kerwin wants to know what kind of financial return the Town is going to get from its investment. All this stuff is going to become clear when staff report back with a “favoured model”. But councillors are assured they will be made aware of all the models.

John Taylor tells us there are lots of high tech companies in Harry Walker Parkway – it’s just we are not aware of them.


The Mayor is going to change all that. He says so.

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