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Burlington Ward 6 Rural Broadband Update: March 18, 2022

STOCK_Ward 6 Rural Broadband Project Update_BLOG

Please see below this week’s project update from Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Councillor Angelo Bentivegna for the Rural Ward 6 Internet Broadband project, as we continue working with stakeholders and residents to provide information about the completion of this essential rural broadband project.

Thank you to everyone who could join us for the recent informal virtual meeting with residents on March 10.

The next meeting with residents is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. – more details will be shared closer to the date. Please save the below dates for future meetings:

  • May: Wednesday, May 18 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.;
  • June: Wednesday, June 15 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.; and
  • July: Wednesday, July 13 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Details for how to join will be shared closer to each date.

Update as of March 16

Questions from the informal virtual meeting with residents:

A number of questions were raised at the recent informal resident meeting. Some were answered at the meeting, but answers are provided below for those who were not present. Some will be answered in a future update. Questions and answers will also be posted on the City’s dedicated Rural Internet Installation project webpage.

1. Are all the hydro poles involved in the project, Burlington Hydro poles? Some residents south of Derry are serviced by Milton Hydro.

  • Burlington Hydro Inc. (BHI) has asked the applicant Internet Access Solutions/Standard Broadband (IASL) for drawings and upon receipt of those will assist with determining pole ownership where required.

2. Will Conservation Halton (CH) waive fees for residents who need permits for any portion of broadband that crosses wetlands or creeks, between the public road and the private residence?

  • Following review of the Best Management Practices Report, and information from the agent, there is not expected to be any crossing of wetlands or watercourses for private service tie-ins, unless it is within a current crossing (i.e. a driveway). As such, the individual service installations will be considered through the overall permit for the road right-of-way permit that will adhere to the Best Management Practices Report. No fees are required for the individual connections.

3. Will the CH approval be a blanket approval for all properties needing approval to cross a waterway, or is each approval for that handled individually? Will these approvals hold up the construction process?

  • Following a review of the Best Management Practices Report, and information from the agent, there is not expected to be any crossing of wetlands or watercourses for private service tie-ins, unless it is within a current crossing (i.e. a driveway). As such, the individual service installations will be considered through the overall permit for the road right of way installation that will adhere to the Best Management Practices Report. A CH permit, once the application is received, will be issued shortly after the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) permit has been issued.

4. Will the permits to cross a wetland or creek delay the construction process?

  • The CH permit relating to the entire project will be issued shortly after the NEC permit has been issued.

5. Will the mainline be installed first, and will an IASL technician consult with the resident after the primary installation to determine if a waterway will be crossed to get to the home? Or will it be done simultaneously?

  • Mainline will be installed first and then the service drops are completed to customers’ homes that then leads to the final installation of customers.

6. If a new hydro pole is required to make room for IASL wires, do all the current “attachers” of the hydro poles contribute to the cost of a new pole (if needed), or is the full cost borne by the new/additional “attacher”?

  • The requesting party that wants to attach, requiring a new pole, is responsible for the costs as per the ‘Agreement for Joint Use of Poles’ that will need to be executed between IASL and BHI.  The existing or current “attachers” are responsible for their own transfers and are responsible for recovering all or part of its costs from the initiating third party.
  • IASL agreed to provide hydro with a complete set of drawings this week so they can determine where the pole crossings might be required, and assess the current use of the poles.
  • BHI has received the locations of the creek crossings and has provided pole data to IASL so they can perform their engineering analysis required for the permit application.

7. Can one single complaint/appeal hold up the process for everyone?

  • Yes. For reference, the right of appeal expires 14 days after the Niagara Escarpment Commission notice of decision is released, namely March 22, 2022. As of this update, no appeals have been received.

8. If there is an appeal, is the appeal only applicable to one of the 14 of the drawing pockets that is of concern to appellant, or will an appeal affect all?

  • Any appeal affects the entire project. However, Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) appeals go to a case management conference that may provide an opportunity to resolve issues and settle the appeal. There have been some recent Case Management Conferences scheduled within 6 weeks of submitting an appeal to the OLT.

9. If there is an appeal, how is the legitimacy of the appeal determined?

  • The legitimacy of the appeal would be determined through the Case Management Conference or hearing process itself — and that can take some time. Typically, a first step is a Case Management Conference. If there is an appeal, it stops the whole project until the Case Management Conference or hearing arrives at a settlement.

10. Will the construction schedule will be updated as the construction moves along?

11. Will an agency have to approve crossing a gas line?

  • IASL will need to secure permission from the gas companies for any work in their right of way. At this week’s meeting, IASL confirmed they have reached out to the three companies — Sun Oil, Imperial Oil and Enbridge — to inquire about required permits. Enbridge has provided their permit process, and Sun Oil and Imperial Oil are still outstanding. In discussions with Imperial Oil, IASL said the permit typically takes six weeks. Construction elsewhere in the project area that is not impacted by pipelines can proceed while these permits are being secured.

12. Is the funding dependent on an election (a particular government being in office)?

  • No. The funding has been approved. IASL are in the process of seeking an extension to the funding to Dec. 31, 2022. More details will be provided in a future update.

13. Is the entire project area under NEC jurisdiction — which areas are not?

  • Most of the project area is within NEC control. Please see the control map for more details. To quantify the question in numbers, the total length of installation (City of Burlington roads 23.8 km + Halton Region roads 13.3 km) is 37.1 km.  The total length of installation contingent on the NEC permit is 29.7 km.  The total length of installation not within the NEC area is 7.4 km.

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Approvals

The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) has issued a Notice of Conditional Approval of a Development Permit. That is here: 22-285 NOD_signed AL KP. Letters were mailed out on Tuesday, March 8 and residents should have received them by now.

The two conditions that must be met before an NEC Development Permit can be issued are:

  1. The applicant, Internet Access Solutions/Standard Broadband (IASL), will submit a final site plan (complete drawing set); and
  2. The applicant will submit a final best management practices report, showing standard construction methods and mitigation measures for individual service line connections. A number of residents have asked whether they will need to seek their own NEC permits to connect service. The work on the best management practices report is intended to replace that, streamline and speed the process, and avoid the need for individual permits from the NEC.

The applicant is continuing to work through these conditions. The applicant is still working on satisfying the conditions. They will be meeting separately with Burlington Hydro to finalize details regarding use of poles.

The applicant will also be finalizing the details of any creek crossings, as well as construction under the drip line of any trees, as part of the best management practices report.

That work is expected to be complete by early next week. Assuming all issues and comments from the NEC, Halton Region, Conservation Halton and City of Burlington have been addressed, the final permit can be issued within a day or two.

As such, the current timeline to receive a final NEC permit is expected by the end of next week or early the following week.

The other agencies will be in a position to issue their permits shortly after the NEC permit has been issued.

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Arborist

Subsequent to the resident meeting, some questions have come in regarding the need for an on-site arborist at those times when a public tree might be impacted by construction. Some of these were asked and answered at the public town hall, and the Q-and-A is available on the city’s project page. The answers are summarized further down this post, as well.

Tree preservation measures are costs borne by the applicant, whether that is providing a tree plan, or securing an on-site arborist. The Mayor and Ward Councillor investigated whether these costs could be absorbed by the City. We are prevented from absorbing those costs for IASL by the Municipal Act provisions on “bonusing” that don’t allow municipalities to provide financial assistance to a business.

We will have a further conversation with the City arborist at next week’s meeting and provide any additional updates to residents.

All conditions are the responsibility of the applicant to implement. Regarding Development Permit H/S/2021-2022/285 Condition 11, the aim is to avoid impacts to trees, so the applicant will need to assess the need for an arborist, or their advice based on the work being carried out in a particular location. Generally, and in accordance with the Best Management Practices Report, excavation within the drip line of trees will require an arborist to attend. Please be advised that Conservation Authority or municipal permissions may have more restrictive conditions in place.

Excerpts from Q-and-A related to tree preservation planning:

Question #7: When undertaking work within the municipal right of way, individuals and contractors must do their due diligence to protect municipal assets, including trees. The completion of an arborist report and preservation plan is a proactive measure that details how work is to be conducted so as to not cause unnecessary injuries or destruction of the City’s green infrastructure. Given the scope and scale of the work, the City negotiated with the applicant to have an arborist on site to support the works around trees in lieu of this document package submission ahead of time. Any on-site changes can be done immediately with the arborist without having to stop work to discuss with others not on site.

Question #8: Although the City trees are catalogued, as per the City’s Public Tree bylaw, an arborist and tree preservation plan is required by a certified arborist for the trees impacted by construction. In this particular instance, due to the scale and timelines provided, the City worked with the applicant to provide an alternative option for review for this file and that was to have a full-time arborist on site during constructions works in the absence of an arborist report and tree preservation. The applicant chose this option. The project arborist assigned is meant to support the contractor with any construction related impacts to trees.

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Construction process

IASL/Standard Broadcasting has said construction is expected to begin in May. An updated construction chart and map have been provided here:

Underground Locates:

IASL must secure locates of underground utilities before construction can proceed. They are working with a paid service that can be onsite within two days of a request. Locates will be requested just before construction begins.

Provincial legislation:

The provincial government has introduced legislation that, if passed, aims to help bring reliable high-speed Internet to underserved and unserved communities, including improving Ontario One Call’s process for determining locates, extending locate validity from 30 to 60 days, and introducing the Broadband One Window to speed permit processing. More details are here:

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Timeline:

March-April 2022

Per the applicant’s webpage, once permits are issued IASL/Standard Broadband will:

  • finalize and post their construction schedule on their webpage
  • order locates for underground utilities

May-June-July 2022

Per the applicant’s webpage, once locates are issued, IASL/Standard Broadband will:

  • bring in equipment
  • begin construction, which is expected to take three months

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Permit Fees

The motion from Councillor Bentivegna and Mayor Marianne Meed Ward to waive the one-time fees for the City’s Municipal Consent Permits for rural broadband was carried unanimously at the March 3 Environment, Infrastructure & Community Services Committee. It goes to City Council on March 22 for final approval.

The full motion can be read here: https://mariannemeedward.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Motion-Memo-Waive-Consent-Fees-Rural-Broadband-March-2022.pdf

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Webpage:

The City has set up a dedicated Rural Internet Installation webpage for the two rural broadband projects currently underway here: https://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/rural-internet-installation.asp

Please check back regularly for updates. If you have subscribed to the page, you’ll receive an alert each time new information is posted.

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Comments/Questions:

Please feel free to share this correspondence with other rural residents who may be interested.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know — at mayor@burlington.ca and ward6@burlington.ca — and we will endeavour to get answers and include them in a future update.

Please be assured that we are all working toward the same shared goal of securing rural broadband for our residents as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Marianne & Angelo

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward & Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

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A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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