Charlevoix businesses eager to get high-speed internet, at last, thanks to G7 Summit
'We're going to jump on the bandwagon while we can,' says La Malbaie restaurauteur of June's media circus
People living in Quebec's picturesque Charlevoix region northeast of Quebec City will see at least one lasting benefit of the G7 Summit the region's hosting in June: the arrival of reliable high-speed internet service.
"It will probably be the most important legacy of the G7," said Johanne Côté, the executive director of Charlevoix's Chamber of Commerce.
The installation of broadband internet can no longer be avoided, with media outlets from around the world arriving at the Manoir de Charlevoix on June 8 and 9 to report on the annual meeting of representatives of the world's seven largest advanced economies.
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Patrice Bergeron works in La Maison du Bootlegger, one of La Malbaie's many restaurants and bars which expect to be flooded by visitors in June.
"The only thing I deplore is that it took a big event like this, which will only last two days, to get things moving," he said.
Bergeron said he does see the silver lining, however.
"We're going to jump on the bandwagon while we can," he said.
'We seem archaic'
For business owners in the region, the lack of access to video-conferencing and frequent service interruptions are daily obstacles to doing business.
Robert Gagnon is the engineering manager at Fibrotek, a company that manufactures high-speed machining and aerospace tooling in Clermont, a town a few kilometres northwest of La Malbaie.
Gagnon said at times it can take several hours to send large files.
Gagnon said he hopes the installation of fibre optic cables won't stop short of Clermont's industrial park.
The company's owner, Luc Tremblay, said he's been pressuring officials to provide higher quality internet service to Clermont for years, and he hopes the time has come.
"We ship to the United States and to Mexico, and we seem archaic in comparison," he said.
The Chamber of Commerce, which is helping to organize the summit, couldn't say exactly which areas will be covered.
Telecommunications giant Bell told CBC it cannot disclose any details on its contracts with its clients.
A Bell spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that the company is still in the planning phase of the region's network upgrade being planned for the summit.
Cellular reception gets boost, too
Ottawa has already announced a $15-million investment in January to install cellphone towers across the Charlevoix region.
Côté said this will bridge some of the gaps in service in the region. Not only are these black-out zones a security issue for travellers, she said, they are also problematic for business owners.
Côté said with an ageing population, it is important for the region to have reliable telecommunications services, to attract young families and new businesses.
Côté said summit will put Charlevoix in the international spotlight, just as the 2017 G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily did for that city.
She said the beauty of Charlevoix's natural landscapes will also surely attract visitors to the region.
With files from Radio-Canada's Cathy Senay