Merritt city council will negotiate an agreement to have Shaw Go Wi-Fi services provided at public facilities in exchange for a fee.
At last Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, council voted to meet with Shaw to hammer out the details.
Last July, Shaw presented council with the idea to install its Wi-Fi in parks, city hall and other public facilities, providing the network free for all users and not just Shaw customers.
The city responded by opening up that opportunity to any company that wished to offer that service, so as not to be aiding a private company, but didn’t receive any other offers.
City of Merritt leisure services manager Larry Plotnikoff told council Shaw’s initial proposal involved the company having free access to city property to install the necessary equipment.
This model exists in most cities that have this agreement with Shaw, Plotnikoff said, but an alternative version would have the company pay to rent the space where it’s equipment is installed and pay for their own electricity.
Plotnikoff said the city sought legal counsel, which informed staff that the original proposal of allowing free access would be seen as aiding a business and against the Community Charter.
“Our legal counsel advised on some changes to the contract and we’ve been going back and forth with Shaw for quite a few months on those,” Plotnikoff said.
He said Shaw is interested in discussing the locations it can install the equipment with the city, and is willing to pay the fees under a five-year agreement with no automatic renewal.
Some of the city facilities Shaw is interested in providing Wi-Fi service to include the aquatic centre, Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and Civic Centre.
However, Shaw would only offer the Wi-Fi to its customers and prohibit guest access, Plotnikoff said.
The City stands to earn a modest $1,000 per year from this agreement.
Plotnikoff told reporters outside council chambers on Tuesday that this service from Shaw should not interfere with current Wi-Fi the city currently offers at some of its facilities, and the equipment needed to be installed are small.