Fast and Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Merritting Mention

Here’s a strange coincidence for you: this week, while looking up the Alberta insolvency court filings for A2A, I ran across a case involving the Town of Olds that included an affidavit from our old CAO — now CAO of Olds — Michael Merritt!

Olds, Alberta Mayor Judy Dahl and former CBRM CAO now Olds CAO Michael Merritt.

Olds, Alberta Mayor Judy Dahl and former CBRM CAO now Olds CAO Michael Merritt.

The case involves the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OICRD) — a non-profit established by the town in 2001 — and Olds Fibre Ltd (OFL).  As reporter Doug Collie explained in Mountain View Today back in May:

Olds Fibre Ltd. is a for-profit business that owns O-NET and O-NET is a community-owned firm that provides high-speed internet as well as phone and TV service.

I have actually written about O-NET before. It was billed as the first community-owned and operated Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to offer 1-Gigabyte-per-second internet and people were excited about it. OpenMedia explained it this way:

The town, located roughly 90 kilometers north of Calgary, has even started to attract tech-savvy entrepreneurs away from its big city neighbour. And no wonder, as Olds boasts service fees that are half that of Calgary’s major telecom providers, offering super fast gigabit for as little as $57 per month. For comparison’s sake, Bell and Rogers offer slower services that average between $115 to $226 a month.

This Internet innovation has done a lot to boost community wellness and economic prosperity in the town of Olds. Through their Internet, voice, and TV self-sufficiency, Olds has been able to funnel million of dollars in funds back into its own community.

At the time of that OpenMedia article (June 2018), Olds was in the process of laying 2.65 million meters of fiber cable at an estimated cost of $21 million, but it seems the project has since gone awry.

According to the Town’s statement of claim, Olds lent the Institute $14 million ($6 million in 2012 and a further $8 million in 2014) and guaranteed a $4 million line of credit. The Town called for repayment in May 2020, signing a “forebearance” agreement with the Institute that was renewed three times before Olds finally applied to have OICRD placed in receivership last month. Olds Mayor Michael Muzychka, in a release posted to the Town website, said:

“Every effort was made by the Town, for OICRD and OFL to find a solution/investor to see O-NET grow and thrive. We believe that BDO Canada has the knowledge and expertise to take O-NET to the next level as the Receiver as we move forward,” said Mayor Muzychka.

Through the work of the Receiver, the Town of Olds will pursue a consolidation of the entities, assets and business operations which include the O-NET service owned and operated by OFL (O-NET), the Olds Connected Community Network (OCCN) owned by OI, and Mountain View Power (MVP) owned and operated by OI, into a Town-controlled corporation during this time period. The Town believes that this is the best means to ensure the preservation of the assets and services, and set O-NET, OCCN and MVP up for the best success moving forward.

Once a Town-controlled corporation has been created, Town Council will then determine the Board of Directors, and the corporation will be governed under the Corporation’s new articles and bylaws which outlines how tasks should be accomplished within the organization, including preparation and management of financial records and process of director appointments.

Merritt arrived in Olds in 2017, so well after the loans were extended.

Coverage of this story is weirdly limited, but I will keep an eye out for further details.


Station elation

Sydney Fire Station No. 1 has opened!


Fire Station, Main Street USA


JUST KIDDING! That’s the fire station on Main Street, USA, in Disneyland. Here’s the Sydney No.1 Station, as photographed by the Cape Breton Post‘s Ian Nathanson:

Sydney Fire Station No. 1


My first thought was, “Why are all those vehicles parked on the street?” But it’s not a question addressed in the accompanying article.

Nathanson got a tour of the station and reports on all the marvels it contains — offices, a board room, truck bays, a training tower, washing machines, coat racks — before offering this comment on the likely impact it will have on the nearby HAT theatre, from Deputy Fire Chief Gilbert MacIntyre:

“We don’t want to be bothering the HAT,” he said Tuesday. “But we’re in the downtown area and there’s going to be a hubbub of activity, between police, fire and ambulance crews.”

I’m not sure the HAT will find that very comforting.

The site still seems to my, admittedly, untrained, eye small for a fire station — and the rear exit onto a one-way street seems less than optimal. But then again, the rear exit into the harbor at the old Sydney No. 1 Station was not optimal either.

I guess we’ll just have to live with it now, although I personally will always consider it a monument to our municipality’s lack of proper public consultation. One of the several such monuments, as a matter of fact.


Vacation elation

I’m enjoying my time off very much.