CRTC resolves issues in Gatineau access dispute

Originally published by the Wire Report
Author: Ahmad Hathout

The CRTC has set guidelines for how the country’s largest telecoms and the city of Gatineau should delegate responsibilities when it comes to municipal rights-of-way access, following a two-year impasse between the disputing parties.

Since April 2017, BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp., Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron, and Cogeco Inc. and Gatineau have been locked in a dispute on issues including what infrastructure work requires a city permit or notice, how costs for equipment relocations and city bypasses would be divided, and fees that can be charged for issuing and renewing municipal approvals. The case had snaked its way to the Quebec Superior Court, which decided in favour of the telecoms after finding some terms trampled on the federal jurisdiction over telecom.

On Friday, vested with that jurisdiction, the CRTC reviewed the specific issues within the municipal access agreement between the disputing parties and established guidelines through which it will review these access problems. The rules will help guide the parties to come to an agreement, the commission said.

On who would absorb costs related to infrastructure relocation, Gatineau proposed and was granted a “sliding scale” approach where the city would bear all of the costs in the first few years of the telecom builds — considering the benefits infrastructure brings to its citizens — but over 16 years or more, the costs would gradually slide over to the telecoms because it’s harder for the city to make accurate predictions about whether a move would be needed in the future, the CRTC reasoned.

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