Vermilion Town Council held a meeting on July 18, with a delegation from MCSnet.
Business Development Manager Kevin Bernhardt, and Chief Marketing Officer Rhona Lafrance. Bernhardt led the presentation and said, “We all see eye to eye on the importance of broadband. We believe broadband is vital to those of us living in rural Alberta.”
They outlined the potential to bring GigAir to Vermilion with an upcoming project of theirs that would begin on the south side of the community and provide access points throughout the community. Currently, working off a tower 2 km west of the college, they have 24 fixed wireless customers and 2 GigAir clients in Vermilion. GigAir is available in communities such as Mannville, Marwayne, Kitscoty, Myrnam, Two Hills, etc.
“It is the speed of fibre but through air radio on a house. From a fibre-fed tower, we broadcast to a community point of presence (POP) which is often a business or public facility. The system has a 2 km range but a web of connections is set up reaching 200m per radio, so they are short-range but remarkably fast. They can be disrupted by trees so they are ideally suited to communities where we can create a network to flow through the community,” said Berhardt.
Setting up a handful of POPs in the community, they will put in free WiFi at that location (often a hall, ag society, library, etc.)
A company from St. Paul, they have 540 towers and 26,000 subscribers. Many receive 60MB download /15MB upload speeds, and with GigAir would receive 1GB upload / 1GB download speeds. Their GigAir basic is $39.95, Unlimited is $89.95, and MSCnet have business plans as well that offer more comprehensive tech support.
Councillor Rob Pulyk thanked them for the information and noting that they were competitors, Lafrance countered that they could be partners.
Councillor Paul Conlon brought forward a motion to request more information on potential industrial lot rezoning for country and country residential lots within the community.
“Particularly Yellowhead Business Park would be more aesthetically pleasing to view modern homes than shops along Highway 16. The town only has two empty lots to offer people for sale,” said Conlon.
Councillor Pulyk said, “I’m not in favour of something like this; it should have come through planning and development. We have the North Brennan in the Municipal Development Plan.”
Councillor Joshua Rayment said, “I don’t think it’s a bad idea to look at other options; but I wouldn’t move forward with it right now.”
Deputy Mayor Snow clarified that it was just for information; and Rayment added that he felt the plan for North Brennan was so far down the road being they will need to add a sewer trunk main in order to support it, and they may need to get something shovel ready sooner in order to not squash growth in the community. The motion was carried.
Discussion surrounded town-owned cell phones and a staff recommendation was given that Council approve the MDM Personal Devices Policy and any Councillors who intend to utilize a personal device for corporate use to sign a waiver. Deputy Mayor Snow was concerned that if something happened on their personal phone they would be asked to wipe their personal information as well.
Councillor Conlon noted that if they were to not use town phones and just the laptops to answer emails, they could potentially save $20,000 and not have to carry two in their pockets.
“I don’t see any risk; if you are going to fall for a phishing scam you will fall for it whether it is a town-owned phone or a personal phone. The risks they were speaking of were regarding emails and that could happen on your laptop within the town’s firewall,” said Councillor Rayment. The motion was denied.
In correspondence, the town received a letter signed by 18 residents of the Vermilion Valley Lodge saying, “We live at the Vermilion Housing Foundation and would like very much to enjoy hens for the summer months in our backyard to feed, water, and have for our young guests to learn about and see.”
The next council meeting will take place August 15, at 6 p.m.