Nova Scotia

Fibre optic internet welcome, but not if it ruins Cabot Trail view

An Inverness County resident says she is looking forward to better high-speed internet, but not if it comes at the cost of ruining an iconic view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the Cabot Trail.

Inverness County resident says utility poles and cables will block unobstructed, iconic view of Gulf

Gayle Hughes says she is looking forward to the installation of fibre optic internet service along Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, but not if it's going to ruin an iconic view. (Submitted by Gayle Hughes)

An Inverness County resident says she and her neighbours are looking forward to the installation of fibre optic internet service, but not if it comes at the cost of ruining an iconic view along the Cabot Trail.

"We have high-speed internet, but it's really not high speed," said Gayle Hughes, whose home is near Cap Le Moine, N.S., midway between Margaree harbour and Grand Étang on Cape Breton's west coast.

"I think we're at about half of what the target is for high speed."

Bell Aliant is installing fibre optic lines throughout the county and Hughes said that will be great — if the cables go on the power poles located inland from the coast.

"I would definitely hook up to it, providing their line is strung on the three-phase service behind our home," she said. "If they come along the roadway in front of my home, no."

View currently unobstructed

That stretch of the Cabot Trail has no utility poles along the road, leaving homeowners and tourists with what is currently an unobstructed view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Hughes said she has spoken with a representative of Develop Nova Scotia, the provincial agency managing the internet expansion project, and with Bell Aliant.

She said the company has told her it is considering putting up 12-metre-high poles along the Cabot Trail to hold the fibre op lines because it might be less expensive, though no final decision has been made.

Hughes said that would be a travesty.

"Not only does it obstruct the view of all the residents along this stretch of Cabot Trail, but it will be a complete eyesore for the tourists," she said.

Bell Aliant still considering routes

Bell Aliant would not provide anyone for an interview, but in an email to CBC News, the company said it is looking for the best route for its fibre optic system.

It said factors will include views, reliability, cost, and ease of access. A final decision will be made later this summer.

Hughes said she is raising the alarm now to let others in the area know what is being considered.

"When I see orange stakes in the ground along the roadway, it's too late," Hughes said.

"I think they're listening, but I don't think it's necessarily going to have any effect on what their final decision is."

Inverness County Warden Laurie Cranton says he wants more information from the service provider so he can sit down with the community and discuss options. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Inverness County Warden Laurie Cranton said he does not want to see the view obstructed, but he is seeking more information from the service provider.

"Once we have that, we can sit down with the community and see what other options there are," he said.

The area depends on tourism and the industry has been pushing for better internet and cellphone service for years, but one of the region's attractions is its iconic coastline, said Cranton.

In an email, Develop Nova Scotia said it is not involved in the field design of the project, but would reach out to its partner, Bell Aliant, to understand the options.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 17 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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