Black Diamond to get a fast connection
Foothills: Telus announces high-speed Internet agreements with three towns
Friday, Oct 13, 2017 06:00 am
Weeks after Turner Valley’s mayor posted on social media council’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding with Telus for high-speed Internet, the national telecommunication company unveiled its partnership with three Foothills towns.
Telus announced Oct. 11 that it’s investing $60 million to provide more than 90 per cent of Black Diamond, Okotoks and Turner Valley homes and businesses with access to fibre optics. Construction will begin in spring 2018.
Black Diamond Mayor Glen Fagan said the Town signed a non-disclosure agreement with Telus last winter that prevented council and administration from speaking about the agreement publicly.
“The announcement had to come from Telus themselves,” said Fagan. “That’s the rationale council used to not make an announcement.”
Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said she shared the motion council made on social media following an in-camera discussion on Sept. 18.
“Whatever is discussed in-camera stays in-camera,” she said. “When you leave in-camera a motion can be made and all I did was put the motion out there. I didn’t provide the details.”
Fagan said Tuck’s statement was met with frustration by some residents who asked why Black Diamond council hadn’t made a decision regarding high-speed Internet.
“Some were wondering why we were so late in the game,” he said. “’Why did Turner Valley get there before us?’”
While Turner Valley council made its decision in September, Fagan said an agreement was already in place between Telus and Black Diamond.
“We had already arrived at our decision,” he said. “This was one of my agendas when I first came on, and I’m very pleased to see that we went to a private enterprise at no cost to the residents. It’s up to the community itself if they wish to take on Telus for their supplier of choice.”
Black Diamond council had agreed not to split the cost for a shared business case with Turner Valley to explore options for high-speed Internet last winter. Both councils have been discussing switching to fibre optics the past couple of years.
“We didn’t spend any money to do any further studies,” Fagan said. “We recognized that we knew where we had to go.”
Fagan said council researched various options for high-speed Internet including the town providing fibre optics itself, sharing with multiple municipalities and leasing.
“The costs were much higher than bringing a private enterprise to do the whole thing,” he said.
Although Axia initially expressed interest in bringing fibre optics to Black Diamond, Fagan said council hadn’t heard from the Internet provider for a while and signed an agreement with Telus.
“It opens the doors to businesses coming,” he said of the agreement. “There are businesses in our community that need high speed at that level or would like to have it at that level, especially those that have a market that goes beyond Alberta.”
Black Diamond Coun. Brian Marconi has been pushing for high-speed Internet in the community since he joined council after last year’s byelection.
“I’m very pleased they are coming to town because it will be just a big boom to our home-based businesses and attract new businesses like engineering services and people who have a lot of uploading to do,” he said. “You need good speed to upload and this will give it to them.”
Marconi said he’s excited with the timeline Telus provided for high-speed Internet to be available in Black Diamond, which is estimated for next summer.
Rates have not yet been announced for the service. There will be no cost to those wishing to remain with their current service provider.