‘Maritime Union’ Considered for High-Speed Networks
December 5, 2012

Network experts from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia have planning meeting 

At a studio in a marsh bordering New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, some 15 experts gathered on November 28th to to decide on methods to interlink high-speed networks, within and between the two provinces.  The experts came together under the banner of i-CANADA, the national movement to create an “Intelligent Nation” through globally-competitive uses of digital tools.  I-CANADA framed the Atlantic region idea by arranging a video keynote with Michael Hrybyk, President and CEO of BCNET, who is creating a broad Regional Area Network in Vancouver area.

“What we are envisioning is a new form of ‘Maritime Union,” said Gary Stairs, President of Fredericton-based Stellar Learning Strategies and Vice President, i-CANADA.  “Our region is leading the development of a new Canada  -  one suited to the 21st Century.  We are creating a plan to develop an equitable high-bandwidth regional community, bringing ultra-high-speed service to homes and businesses throughout the twin provinces.”

The meeting is a follow-through to an Executive TeleForum that was held in October.  “Today, our social and business organizations can only thrive in a connected ecosystem,” said Terry Dalton, Chair of the Atlantic Canada Organization of Research Networks.  We have some world-class networks for our universities and research organizations.  What we need to do is connect all these pearls into a necklace  -  a necklace that will unify our provinces.”

“We are determined to push for a super-regional network,” agreed Jason Powell, President of Digital Nova Scotia.  “We have been ignoring the infrastructure that jump-starts the future: the ultra-broadband connectivity needed by organizations in a global Ideas Economy.  Political leaders need to understand that today’s infrastructure is not just about roads or rails, it is about fibres of light that allow inspiration to be developed and then to be globally commercialized.”

“It would certainly be an advantage on the world stage to consider Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as one large virtual community,” said i-CANADA Co-Founder Barry Gander.  Gander, who is also EVP of Canada’s largest high-tech organization, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA).  “Both provinces together have less than half the population of the Greater Toronto Area.  Yet the provinces abound in the fuels that drive today’s Ideas Economy:  creativity, life-style, and education.  The region could be pictured as one large virtual community, intermediated by forests and seas.”

“We are building on success,” noted Mr. Stairs.  “The digital economy strategies followed by the province of New Brunswick, for example, have brought us new business and higher levels of economic growth and social activity.  We are thrilled that the Governors Council of i-CANADA is Chaired by Premier David Alward  -  he is setting an example for everyone.  Mayor Brad Woodside of Fredericton is also a nationally-recognized champion; he has taken the digital economy message across Canada!  Our goal is to keep their momentum going, and make sure that we are all connected and engaged.”

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is general acknowledged to be the dynamic ecosystem sparking innovation and spurring change.  Befitting a workshop dedicated to breaking traditional molds, it is being held at the studio of photographer Thaddeus Holownia, Professor and Head of the department of Fine Arts, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick.  “Thaddeus set aside his studio and his time, because he recognizes the importance of our work from a creative and innovative point of view,” stated Mr. Stairs.

“We can become the best,” said Fredericton CIO Maurice Gallant.  “Three of our communities have been recognized internationally as Intelligent Communities.  We can spread that across the entire super-region.  Ultimately, we want to engineer a situation where people here have no reason to go to Boston or Toronto.”

Attendees at the meeting voted to create a permanent council to drive the movement forward.  The group includes Doug Robertson, President and CEO, TECH South East; Laurie Guthrie, Economic Development Officer, Fredericton; Jason Powell, President, Digital Nova Scotia;  Terry Dalton, Chair at Atlantic Canada Organization of Research Networks; Barry Gander, Co-Founder, i-CANADA; Gary Stairs, President of Fredericton-based Stellar Learning Strategies and Vice President, i-CANADA;  David Baxter, VP, Innovation, T4G Limited; Larry Shaw, CEO, Knowledge Park; Louise-Philippe Gauthier, VP Strategic Initiatives, Invest New Brunswick; Helmut Becker, Director of Computer Services, Mount Allison University; Maurice Gallant, CIO, City of Fredericton; Nancy Flam, Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development; Ray Miller, Executive Director, ACEnet, Memorial University; Tom Rivington, F6 Networks; Yves Bourgeois, Director, Urban and Community Studies Institute, University of New Brunswick; Thaddeus Holownia, Professor and Head of the department of Fine Arts, Mount Allison University, and Mary Butler, VP College and Community Development, New Brunswick Community College. 

“In many ways, our region is setting an example for the rest of Canada.  We want to accelerate that process,” stated Mr. Stairs. 

i-CANADA has been holding regional meetings across Canada to develop intelligent communities.  A SUMMIT event is planned for June 3-5, 2013, in Toronto.

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For more on the world of Thaddeus Holownia, visit:       http://www.holownia.com/

For more on i-CANADA:                                                                www.icandaa.nu

For more on Stellar Learning Strategies:                               www.stellarls.com

For inquiries about the Workshop, please email:

Shannon Payne                                                                                spayne@redhotlearning.com