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Columbus lagging back in internet technology

Resident says lack of broadband creating financial, lifestyle and security challenges

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Over the past decade, the Oshawa’s north boundaries have begun to stretch further and further towards the city’s outlying communities.

Along with its larger counterpart, the hamlet of Columbus has begun to experience its own boom in development.

The Columbus Builders Group, a group of approximately seven different developers representing approximately 60 per cent of the land within the Columbus planning area, approached the city in 2017 with an arrangement that would see the group fund studies needed to move the planning process forward.

This type of agreement is not new to the city as similar plans were made through the Kedron and Taunton development areas.

And while the development wheels are in motion, it appears the hamlet is behind when it comes to technology.

In a letter to the city’s development services committee, Columbus resident David O’ Keefe says, to date, the area “still has no access to internet [services].”

“There are currently no cable or phone lines which would allows us to have access to this basic essential service,” O’ Keefe writes. “Due to this, residents are forced to obtain satellite internet which is costing us hundreds of dollars a month only to provide inconsistent services and limited accessibility.”

O’ Keefe goes on to say this putting a “financial burden” on residents, while also causing security concerns for those with home alarm systems that require a stable internet connection.

Staff has been directed to bring back a report on the matter at a future committee meeting.

The city launched internet speed tests last year and a view of the map yields no results for Columbus.

Tests in the surrounding areas indicate significantly lower download speeds than those in the City of Oshawa proper.

The Region of Durham is in the midst of developing a region-wide broadband internet strategy.

While speaking to regional council in June, principal planner Brad Anderson said Durham’s rural areas have some of the lowest speeds in the entire Greater Toronto Area.

Paul Ralph, commissioner of development services says communications underservice to Columbus has been a long-time issue.

And despite big investment announcements for Oshawa by both Bell and local company TelMax, Ralph says he is unsure of their plans, if any, for Columbus.

“I’m not sure what we can do other than support the regional government,” he says.