CIRA’s membership team is organizing events across the country to engage with Members (and potential Members). These meet-ups offer an opportunity to network with other Internet leaders and learn more about CIRA’s work to build a better online Canada.
CIRA’s recent event in Vancouver featured Josh Tabish, Campaigns Director at OpenMedia. Josh spoke to the work that OpenMedia is doing to try to encourage more awareness of community broadband programs and projects in Canada.
“Stratford, Olds, Coquitlam and Thunder Bay are many kilometres apart, but they share a common vision of a very connected Canada” said Josh, adding that that these communities are no longer willing to wait for incumbent providers to build out the Internet services that they need.
Enter community-broadband.ca. A new site from OpenMedia (and funded by CIRA’s Community Investment Program) that highlights success stories about community broadband and helps residents access resources to advocate for broadband services in their communities.
For example, Olds Alberta, a town 90 kms north of Calgary, has built a fibre-to-the-premises network that delivers ultra-fast Internet at lower costs. According to community-broadband.ca, “Olds boasts service fees that are half that of Calgary’s major telecom providers, offering super-fast gigabit for as little as $57 per month.”
The community-broadband.ca site also provides simple tools that help residents reach out to their local leaders to express their support for local broadband initiatives. OpenMedia is also building a list of concerned citizens who may want to play a leadership role on community broadband in their region. Anyone interested can complete this simple online form to let OpenMedia know that they are interested in advocating and why this issues matters to them personally.
Early indications show that ideas around community broadband are resonating. Josh reported that local municipal leaders were already getting in touch with OpenMedia to learn more about community broadband and how they can learn more about the technologies and business models.
For example, the local paper in Colwood, a community outside of Victoria BC, quoted several councillors looking for more information from municipal staff on the issue. According to the Goldstream News Gazette Coun. Lilja Chong stated that "I think it does merit an opportunity to investigate. It could potentially bring large economic revenue for the city. It also could benefit the citizens by having a better network.”
CIRA’s also held meet-ups in Edmonton (March 21), Calgary (March 23), and Ottawa (March 30).