Musician J.P. Cormier to launch lawsuit over lack of rural high-speed internet access
Singer-songwriter says it would take 41 days to upload a 45-minute video to YouTube
Nova Scotia singer-songwriter J.P. Cormier intends to launch a lawsuit against Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia, the province and the Halifax Regional Municipality over the lack of high-speed internet in rural parts of the province.
During an interview with CBC Nova Scotia News at 6 on Wednesday, Cormier said it would take 41 days for him to upload a 45-minute video to YouTube. But if the Cooks Brook resident travels to his sister-in-law's house 20 minutes away, that same video would only take 90 seconds to upload.
"I don't want any money. I want the service put in, which has been explained to me by Bell and Eastlink and others can easily be put in here if the political will is there to put it in. And that's what it comes down to," Cormier said.
Cormier's notice of intended action was filed July 8, 2020, for "failure to provide an essential service to the people of rural Nova Scotia." He'll move forward with the lawsuit in two months if things don't change.
COVID-19 has meant Cormier had to move his shows and performances from live venues to exclusively online, but he said that transition "hasn't been easy."
"We have no real service here to speak of. We have North Nova Cable, which is just not fast enough to do the kind of upload speed we need for our music or anything," he said.
He's had to use his wife's Bell cellphone to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Then he ended up buying a second piece of equipment from Bell that is "just a giant phone with multiple antennas that changes a cell signal to Wi-Fi."
But Cormier said that hasn't been the best option either. He said it needs to be outside for it to work and he fears once November hits, the weather will make it unusable.
"You can't put it outside in bad weather or freezing temperatures, it'll just be destroyed," he said.
What makes the situation more frustrating, Cormier said, is that high-speed internet is only 3.8 kilometres away from his home.
"It's literally at the end of the road. And I feel let down and angry and frustrated, not just for me, but for all the people around here that have been screaming at the HRM and the province for six years to bring high speed in here," he said.
"There's businesses and professionals all up and down this these roads here: teachers, doctors, lawyers, police, military, recording studio — it's endless. There's like 25 businesses around here and they can't grow."
In an email to CBC News, Develop Nova Scotia declined to comment on Cormier's intended legal action because it is "under review and we would not comment on legal matters."
But the Crown corporation said it is working to get more high-speed internet access in rural communities.
"Our first call for proposals resulted in projects that will provide high-quality, high-speed access for 42,000 homes and businesses (about half of all underserved Nova Scotian homes and businesses) and these projects are currently being implemented," the email said.
"Our second call for proposals included all those underserved communities not addressed in round one. The projects received in round #2 are under evaluation and will be announced in August."
Develop Nova Scotia said its goal is to have high-speed internet available for "close to 100" per cent of Nova Scotia homes and businesses as quickly as possible.
CBC Nova Scotia News at 6 and Elizabeth Chiu