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Kawagama & Bear Lakes Fiber Optic Projects Update - 2024.06.18

The following information was obtained through a recent (June 18) phone conversation with a Bell Canada representative leading the project in the Dorset area.  What follows is a summary of the conversation.

 

  1. Project Background:

 

  1. Who is Included on Kawagama & Bear Lakes:

  • Stay tuned - all Kawagama and Bear Lake property owners will be contacted by the project team.

 

  1. Current Activity:

  • Design Team is on the water doing very rough preliminary estimates of where a submarine fiber cable is likely to come onshore.  These locations are being marked with stakes and / or orange tape tied to foliage.

  • Key point is this is early innings on the design phase so not all locations are marked yet.

  • Early design phase which could see roughly 600 to 800 properties around Kawagama and Bear serviced by submarine fiber when the project completes.

  • Remainder of the properties will be serviced overland.  Preliminary design includes one submarine cable coming on shore near a property line and then servicing the 2 co-located properties.  All of this is subject to change given this is in the very early design phase.

  • Water access only properties on the mainland and the islands will be serviced by this project.

  • A project of this type requires numerous environmental approvals from MNRF, pole usage approvals from Hydro One, county and township municipal approvals.  For the most part all applications have been submitted to the respective regulatory authorities.

 

  1. Project Timeline:

  • Design phase has only just started and is expected to last 6 months.  Results of field and on water work could impact this.

  • Actual connection work is expected to start in early 2025 and run for 12 to 18 months.

  • Current goal is to have all property owners around Kawagama and Bear Lakes capable of connecting to a fiber service by mid 2026.

 

  1. Choice:

  • Everyone has a choice and will be given an opportunity to opt in or opt out of the project.  If you wish to totally opt out a pedestal will not be installed on your property.

  • It will be possible to have the pedestal installed but not cabled to the cottage.

 

  1. Submarine Fiber Cable:

  • The submarine / underwater fiber cable is small - approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter with the waterproof protective portion being heavy to ensure it definitely sinks to the bottom of the lake and stays put.

  • It is encased in an additional protective layer near the shore and is embedded where possible into the bottom of the lake so as not to present a tripping hazard for swimmers etc.  it also protects the cable from boats and the scouring action of the ice in the spring.

  • It will run to a small green pedestal (6 inches square, 2 feet tall) at the shoreline.

  • Fiber optic cable will be buried between the pedestal and the cottage / residence for those who want it.

 

  1. Landscape / Shorescape Alterations:

  • Bell assures the contractors will take before and after photos of the site around the pedestal.

  • The contractors are required to restore the landscape etc. to original condition.

  • Same process applies if the property owner elects to have the service run from the pedestal to the cottage.

  • All cables are underground where possible once they emerge from the lake.

 

  1. Communications:

  • It is obvious Bell needs to work on communicating about this project.

  • They are working on this and so far an “email drop box”  has been setup with a team fielding the emails it receives.  You are encouraged to email your questions to Brownfield705South@bell.ca

 

  1. Other Lakes – are we the first ?

  • Submarine fiber cable has already been installed in several Muskoka and Haliburton lakes so will be using proven technology.

  • This project will include lakes such as Raven, Kennesis, Lake of Bays etc.

 

  1.  Network Speed

  • Details as to what will be offered, and the pricing, are not currently available. 

  • It is understood these will range from modest low speeds up to full fiber optic speeds.

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