Cellular and Internet connections on Haliburton Lake need to be improved.

Glenn Scott is the President of the Haliburton Lake Cottagers Association and he says more people would spend more time at the cottages operating their businesses with some making the lake a year-round home if the basic services were in place.

He points to no cell service on most of the lake and a very slow internet connection with the only landline provider, Bell, as main issues for the growing number of seasonal residents who are selling their city residences and moving to the area full time.

There are over 600 lots surrounding the popular lake and when summer hits there can be nearly 800 people trying to use Internet and Cell phone service. In short, it is not good enough in the winter months and gets worse in the summer.

Scott recently retired from his job as an engineer with Hydro One and lives year-round at the lake. He knows there are many people in similar situations that would love to call Haliburton home year round, but they can’t do their work from the area without a good Internet connection and cell service.

He says once a person drives a few kilometres north of Eagle lake you lose your cellular signal.

The Association realizes companies can’t just invest in equipment upgrades when there are few subscribers that actually benefit.  He has actually written a letter to Bell to see what kind of an investment would be required from cottagers to help make an upgrade happen. Scott also points there are companies who create community telecoms as a cooperative that shares in infrastructure cost, but also revenue.

“One company currently putting services up in Haliburton, they provided telecom services to Sharbot Lake in Eastern Ontario” he explains.

An unconfirmed number he has heard to upgrade the local communications box to a higher capacity is around $250,000. He thinks local association members might be interested in helping with some of that cost in exchange for better services.

“We’re going to spend millions of dollars on cellular networks and towers that are not necessarily going to service the Internet needs, why can’t we spend a quarter of a million dollars on an Internet box?”, he asks rhetorically.

He adds, “there would be a lot of people here that if I put up a GoFundMe page would be willing to contribute.”

While he views this as primarily an issue for Haliburton Lake residents, he thinks the municipality should be helping from a government perspective to get companies to invest in the backbone equipment that serves the area.

Scott says the provincial government is touting something called the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, that is working to provide these very services, but the earliest service upgrades to the Haliburton area would be around 2025.

“That is a long time,” Scott says. “And that would only be on tower services.”

“What we are looking for from the municipality is to use some of their leverage and political sway between the municipality and the county to push the province to make the Internet and cellular systems a little bit more of a priority,” he says.