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Councillors want broadband cable in regional project

Residents in Oshawa’s most northern areas praying for “lackluster” services

Oshawa city council has requested Durham Region to include broadband infrastructure as part of a major construction project in the area of Winchester Road and Simcoe Street North.

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

City council has called on the region to install high-speed internet cable as part of upcoming road upgrades in north Oshawa.

A major construction project in the area of Winchester Road and Simcoe Street will begin soon.

Simcoe Street will be widened from Conlin Road to Winchester, while new curbs and gutters, traffic and street lights, and hydro duct banks will be installed.

But council wants broadband cable to be part of the project as well.

Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey said a lack of high-speed internet has become a “real issue” in rural areas of Oshawa.

“The residents north of the 407 are paying astronomical prices for lackluster internet services,” she said.

A number of residents, particularly in Columbus, have implored the city to help them.

The city’s last council approved plans to develop a broadband strategy last October.

However, the accompanying staff report asserted rural communities of Oshawa are not priorities to private sector internet companies at the moment.

“While the private sector is stepping forward to improve broadband connectivity and internet services, there are gaps within the community that they will not address. Put simply, the private sector will only invest in new technology and infrastructure where they can make an expected return on their investment,” the report reads.

But Ward 1 regional councillor John Neal argued rural residents “are not in isolation anymore.”

“They have development right up to their doorstep. It only makes sense we bring this to them as quick as possible,” Neal added.

Ward 4 city councillor Rick Kerr said as Durham College and UOIT expand north, students will expect “access to quality internet services from the get-go.”

Durham Region is also completing its own broadband strategy.

According to data collected so far, rural areas in the region have some of the slowest internet connections in the GTA.