City council rejects motion supporting CRTC fibre-op ruling

Ottawa city council will not echo Toronto and Calgary in supporting a controversial decision that forces big telecom companies to share their high-speed Internet lines.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently ruled that smaller companies can piggyback off the fibre-optics infrastructure of Internet giants like Bell.

On Wednesday, Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper tried to rally his council colleagues in support of that ruling. His motion failed 17-7.

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For Mr. Leiper, the ruling is about fostering competition and creating affordable Internet.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney added that she has spoken with many families and seniors who can’t afford the service.

However, many councillors around the table argued it was not a topic worth debating in the council chambers, but at the CRTC.

“It just looks like a high five to them to say good job,” said Innes Coun. Jody Mitic.

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais called the motion “anti-rural Internet” because it creates a disincentive for telecom companies to extend their network.

“They’re going to spend the money to put the wires in the ground and then they’re going to be competing on offering the service and not be able to recover the money,” he said, following the meeting.

Mayor Jim Watson also voted against Mr. Leiper’s motion. He recently wrote a letter to the Clerk of the Privy Council in support of Bell’s application to overturn that CRTC ruling.

Toronto’s city council recently voted in favour of upholding the CRTC decision (despite Mayor John Tory’s opinion to the contrary). The City of Calgary submitted a report defending the CRTC decision.

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