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Public Uproar Over Bell CEO’s Chalet Internet Hookup

On the broadband internet map, Lake Sainte-Marie does not exist. Currently, there is no internet service available for the thousands of other residences in the municipality of Lake Sainte-Marie and in the surrounding area. Everyone has the same problem in this region, there is no internet. It is impossible for everyone to work from home or participating in an online learning during the pandemic since there is no internet access available to them.

Somehow, residents in Lake Pemichangan have internet.

There are luxurious lake houses on the shores of lake Pemichangan and they are worth over $1 million each. One of the lake house owners is Bell Canada President and CEO, Mirko Bibic. He has a high-speed internet. Not just a regular internet connection, it is an internet high speed, fiber optic line constructed and provided by Bell Canada. To accommodate this type of internet connection, Bell must run a fiber optic line through the village of Lac-Sainte-Marie.

People in the area found that it is strange that Bell gives internet access to the residents of lake Pemichangan but left out the entire residents of Lake Sainte-Marie, not even the town hall. They are furious over this matter.

“They skipped the entire village of Lac-Sainte-Marie, it’s ridiculous,” Raphaël Bédard said.

Raphaël Bédard owns the Fromagerie La Cabriole and he was asked by Bell to pay $3,000 per month to hook him up to the internet even though Bell has fiber optic line runs over his property, 100 yards from his house.

The prefect of the MRC, Chantal Lamarche, said that “it is unfair; Internet should be accessible to everyone.”

The internet hookup of the lakeside properties is part of the taxpayer funded project. Bell spokesperson Charles Gosselin stated that their President and CEO, Mirko Bibic, is not involved in this project.

“I can guarantee that our rollout is in no way influenced by anyone’s presence or absence. Bell is a serious company that decides on its investments based on factors of cost effectiveness and viability,” said Gosselin.

“Mirko Bibic’s presence in the Outaouais region has nothing to do with our project in Pemichangan Lake or [elsewhere]. There is no link.”

Bibic and his wife bought land in the area in 2004 and he was named chief operating officer at the company in 2018. In the same month, his cottage was hooked up to Fibe.

The governments of Canada and Quebec funded the development project of the fiber optic network to lake Pemichangan. Bell submitted the project at a total cost of $3.8 million and they were paid two-thirds by Ottawa and Quebec. The governments of Canada and Quebec provided subsidies to bring optical fibre to Pemichangan Lake, while Bell paid the costs of the individual connections.