Item - 2022.EX31.8

Tracking Status

  • This item was considered by Executive Committee on March 30, 2022. The Executive Committee postponed consideration of this item. Consult the text of the decision for further information on the deferral.

EX31.8 - ConnectTO Program Update

Decision Type:
ACTION
Status:
Deferred
Wards:
All

Committee Decision

The Executive Committee deferred Item EX31.8 to the May 4, 2022 Executive Committee Meeting, to permit the Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services, and the Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services to submit a supplementary report on:

 

1. The further questions and issues raised at the Executive Committee meeting on March 30, 2022.

  

2. A time frame for developing a ConnectTO Business Plan, which will include:   


a. the short, medium and long term costs of building and maintaining the proposed networks;


b. the end-user price and download/upload capacity that will be available through the City’s Municipal Broadband Network;

 

c. proof of the City’s ability to create better access and pricing for high speed internet than established Internet Service Providers, when the city does not have existing infrastructure or funding;

 

d. address how ConnectTO will gain access to apartment buildings that already have contracts with other Internet Service Providers;

 

e. the number of Full Time Equivalent staff required for the planning, implementation, and on-going operations and management of this project, in addition to the 1000+ existing Technology Services Full Time Equivalents;

 

f. evidence that price is the main factor that challenges the use of internet services in priority neighbourhoods, and not lack of computers, computer literacy, or other fears or concerns about internet use; and

 

g. a statement of the metrics for success, including the anticipated number of new internet subscriptions from residents who previously could not afford and/or lacked access to high speed internet.
 

3. The justification for creating this new internet infrastructure, given that most buildings already have high speed internet, and affordable high speed internet plans are available to low income families with sufficient download/upload capacity for video streaming for classroom use.

 

4. A comparative analysis of short and long term costs, capital and operating, of existing service versus the proposed service; such cost analysis should separate the costs for service to City properties from service to residential communities and should also show the cost differences between using private sector providers for internet service versus City-owned and managed assets.

Decision Advice and Other Information

The Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services gave a presentation on the Item.

Origin

(March 16, 2022) Report from the Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services and Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services

Summary

At its February 2, 3 and 5, 2021 meeting, City Council approved the phased implementation of ConnectTO, a collaborative program that aims to centralize stewardship of municipal resources and assets to deliver on the City's equity and connectivity goals.

This report provides an update on the first phase of the ConnectTO program, and seeks City Council's endorsement of the proposed next steps for the creation of a City of Toronto Municipal Broadband Network (MBN). The intention is that the Municipal Broadband Network will be a City-owned, high-speed fibre broadband internet network that will support municipal operation and services, connect City-owned facilities, and that will be accessible to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in order to provide high-speed internet services directly to Toronto residents and businesses. This report also seeks City Council's support for proposed requests to other levels of government to improve infrastructure and address the digital divide.  

Since February 2021, staff have executed the ConnectTO Phase 1 work plan as directed by Council and built on the momentum of 2020 to continue expanding internet connectivity in several Neighbourhood Improvement Area communities. Specific updates and outcomes included in this report are:

 

- Expanded Free Wi-Fi in Community Centres and Toronto Community Housing common areas, as well as launching a Youth Learning & Work Placement Program through the Digital Canopy initiative in Tower Neighbourhoods;

 

- Continued partnerships with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to research and analyse digital access, responsible data collection and management, and the social impacts of ConnectTO;  


Initiated development of a Digital Equity Policy for the City of Toronto;

 

- Continued monitoring of Federal and Provincial initiatives, including activities of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC);

 

- Continued leading regular dialogue with other big cities coast-to-coast, in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), seeking alignment on broadband priorities; and

 

- Conducted ConnectTO Municipal Broadband Network Phase 1 pre-tender information-gathering and issued a Negotiated Request for Proposals (nRFP) seeking suppliers to deploy fibre and provide low-cost high-speed internet access to 6,700 residential and business units in several Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. No responses to the Negotiated Request for Proposals were received.

 

It is clearer than ever that access to broadband, also known as high-speed internet service, is necessary for Torontonians to equitably participate in the economy and day-to-day life. Through 2020 and 2021, the experiences of Torontonians have highlighted the presence of a digital divide in our city, and that high-speed internet access is essential to the resiliency of our city and its residents. Toronto has the opportunity to leverage its assets and expertise in public service delivery to create an Municipal Broadband Network. The Municipal Broadband Network will not situate the City of Toronto as an Internet Service Provider, but will instead enhance local competition by bringing more capacity to Toronto's internet service market for a broader range of private or public Internet Service Providers. These efforts will also help the City of Toronto leverage its assets in partnerships with Internet Service Providers to make high quality and reliable internet more accessible for all residents, regardless of their financial means or circumstances.

Based on research, review of relevant jurisdictions, lessons learned from the Phase 1 Negotiated Request for Proposals, consideration of sustainable business models and expert advice, Technology Services is seeking City Council support for the proposed approach and high-level planning, administration, and governance activities required over the next three years to facilitate longer-term deployment of a City of Toronto Municipal Broadband Network. In following this approach, staff anticipate Municipal Broadband Network construction may be able to commence by 2024 and proceed longer-term by deploying fibre infrastructure assets in parallel with planned construction projects.

Once fully implemented, the Municipal Broadband Network would enhance the City's high-speed fibre broadband capacity, lower costs incurred by the City for its own network services, and provide the necessary infrastructure to support more robust competition in Toronto's internet service market. The City aims to achieve these outcomes by:

- Connecting City buildings, facilities and public spaces through a City-owned, high-capacity fibre broadband network (i.e. "the middle mile");

- Collaborating with private ISPs to provide affordable, high-quality internet services to residents and businesses (i.e. the "last mile");

- Creating opportunities for private Internet Service Providers to access City-wide fibre network infrastructure; and

- Ensuring that revenue or savings realized through the Municipal Broadband Network is re-invested to support connectivity in communities with a priority focus on Indigenous, Black and equity-deserving communities.

 

Given the long-term nature of an Municipal Broadband Network implementation, this report also outlines several opportunities to help bridge connectivity gaps in the shorter-term for communities in need.

This report aligns with, and supports the report from the Chief Technology Officer entitled City of Toronto Digital Infrastructure Strategic Framework: A new Principles-based approach for the planning and use of technology and data in Toronto which is also being considered by the Executive Committee on March 30, 2022.

Engineering and Construction Services, Social Development, Finance and Administration, Toronto Employment and Social Services, Purchasing and Materials Management, Toronto Public Health, People and Equity, Economic Development and Culture, City Planning, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Transportation Services, Corporate Real Estate Management, Legal Services, and the City Manager's Office were consulted in the preparation of this report. In addition, Toronto Community Housing, Toronto Public Library, and CreateTO were consulted on this report.

Background Information

(March 16, 2022) Report from the Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services and Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services on ConnectTO Program Update
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222923.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 1 - Decision History
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222924.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 2 - Updated Jurisdictional Scan
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222925.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 3 - University of Toronto's School of Cities Social Impacts Survey
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222926.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 4 - ConnectTO Phase 1 Pre-Tender Information-Gathering Online Questionnaire Results Summary
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222927.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 5 - Ryerson University's Digital Equity Policy Report
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222928.pdf
(March 16, 2022) Attachment 6 - Toronto Public Health Prudent Avoidance Policy Report
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-222929.pdf
ConnectTO Program Presentation by Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services Division
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-223322.pdf

Communications

(March 27, 2022) E-mail from Dan Armstrong, CEO, Beanfield Metroconnect (EX.New)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/comm/communicationfile-146689.pdf
(March 28, 2022) E-mail from Larry Whatmore, President, Scarborough Community Renewal Organization (EX.New)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/comm/communicationfile-147069.pdf
(March 29, 2022) Letter from Robert Malcolmson (EX.Supp)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/comm/communicationfile-147408.pdf
(March 29, 2022) E-mail from Councillor Josh Matlow, Ward 12, Toronto - St. Paul's (EX.Supp)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/comm/communicationfile-147411.pdf
(March 30, 2022) E-mail from Serge Cormier, CEO, SkyChoice Communications (EX.New)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ex/comm/communicationfile-147497.pdf

Speakers

Larry Whatmore, President, Scarborough Community Renewal Organizatino (SCRO)
Nour Abdelaal, Ryerson Leadership Lab
Azin Tabrizi, CEO, Met-Scan Canada Ltd.
Bianca Wylie, Tech Reset Canada

Motions

1 - Motion to Defer Item moved by Councillor Paul Ainslie (Carried)

That Executive Committee defer Item EX31.8 to the May 4, 2022 Executive Committee Meeting, to permit the Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services, and the Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services to submit a supplementary report on the further questions and issues raised at the Executive Committee meeting on March 30, 2022.

Vote (Defer Item) Mar-30-2022

Result: Carried Majority Required
Total members that voted Yes: 7 Members that voted Yes are Paul Ainslie, Ana Bail„o, Gary Crawford, Jennifer McKelvie, Denzil Minnan-Wong (Chair), James Pasternak, Michael Thompson
Total members that voted No: 0 Members that voted No are
Total members that were Absent: 1 Members that were absent are John Tory

2 - Motion to Amend Motion moved by Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Carried)

That the Executive Committee amend Councillor Ainslie's Motion 1 to defer Item EX31.8 to the May 4, 2022 Executive Committee meeting, so that it now reads as follows:

 

"That Executive Committee defer Item EX31.8 to the May 4, 2022 Executive Committee Meeting, to permit the Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services, and the Chief Technology Officer, Technology Services to submit a supplementary report on:

 

1.  the further questions and issues raised at the Executive Committee meeting on March 30, 2022.

  

2. a time frame for developing a ConnectTO Business Plan, which will include:   


a. the short, medium and long term costs of building and maintaining the proposed networks;


b. the end-user price and download/upload capacity that will be available through the City’s Municipal Broadband Network;

 

c. proof of the City’s ability to create better access and pricing for high speed internet than established Internet Service Providers, when the city does not have existing infrastructure or funding;

 

d. address how ConnectTO will gain access to apartment buildings that already have contracts with other Internet Service Providers;

 

e. the number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff required for the planning, implementation, and on-going operations and management of this project, in addition to the 1000+ existing Technology Services FTEs;

 

f. evidence that price is the main factor that challenges the use of internet services in priority neighbourhoods, and not lack of computers, computer literacy, or other fears or concerns about internet use; and

 

g. a statement of the metrics for success, including the anticipated number of new internet subscriptions from residents who previously could not afford and/or lacked access to high speed internet.  
 

3. the justification for creating this new internet infrastructure, given that most buildings already have high speed internet, and affordable high speed internet plans are available to low income families with sufficient download/upload capacity for video streaming for classroom use.

 

4. a comparative analysis of short and long term costs, capital and operating, of existing service versus the proposed service; such cost analysis should separate the costs for service to city properties from service to residential communities and should also show the cost differences between using private sector providers for internet service versus City-owned and managed assets.

Vote (Amend Motion) Mar-30-2022

Result: Carried Majority Required
Total members that voted Yes: 7 Members that voted Yes are Paul Ainslie, Ana Bail„o, Gary Crawford, Jennifer McKelvie, Denzil Minnan-Wong (Chair), James Pasternak, Michael Thompson
Total members that voted No: 0 Members that voted No are
Total members that were Absent: 1 Members that were absent are John Tory

Declared Interests

The following member(s) declared an interest:

Mayor John Tory - declared a direct or pecuniary interest in accordance with Section 5 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act as he has continuing involvement in the Rogers family entities and the ConnectTO item could, out of an abundance of caution, trespass into that.
Written Declaration: https://secure.toronto.ca/council/declared-interest-file.do?id=10856
Source: Toronto City Clerk at www.toronto.ca/council