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A chance for the city to fix damaged telecom boxes: The Fixer

A day of reckoning could soon arrive for telecom providers who won’t fix damaged equipment boxes, if the city seizes the opportunity.

On Wednesday, city council’s works and infrastructure committee will deal with proposed “universal equipment placement guidelines” for all telecom boxes located within city road allowances.

The apparent reluctance of Rogers and Bell, which is responsible for the vast majority of them, to keep up with repairs to the large number of damaged boxes on city streets has long been a sore spot with us, and a lot of our readers.

Among them is David Crawford, who deals with streetscape issues for the downtown St. Lawrence Community Association and is one of the best-informed people on local matters we’ve ever come across.

For many years, we’ve been critical of telecom firms for failing to fix boxes that are falling apart and have wires spilling out of them. You’d think Rogers and Bell would want to keep them in good repair, but the sheer number of damaged boxes suggests otherwise.

We’ve been challenging the city to impose maintenance standards that would require the boxes to be fixed promptly, and last week suggested it start by simply requiring them to label all street equipment with their name and a phone number that can be called to report damage.

It’s impossible to find a Rogers box with its name on it. Bell isn’t much better, but at least its name can be found on some of its boxes.

We believe they get away in part because unlabelled boxes offer anonymity. If the city required identification, it would be harder to duck their responsibility.

Crawford, who’s been following our columns, thinks the same way. He emailed us an agenda item for the Wednesday committee meeting that includes detailed standards for the placement of boxes.

He also sent us a note saying his association “has just written to the committee, suggesting that all above ground utility boxes should be clearly labelled with the company they belong to and, ideally, a phone number to report problems.”

A report to the committee notes that the guidelines will deal with on-street equipment “that detract from the enjoyment of the public realm.” Damaged equipment boxes would surely qualify as a detraction.

Under objectives, it says a goal is to “develop better practices to reduce the amount, impact (and) necessity of above-ground plant.”

Shouldn’t imposing standards that require boxes to be kept in good repair and fixed quickly when damaged be part of better practices?

We all know the answer.

It amounts to a timely opportunity for the city to impose reasonable maintenance rules, but we’d be surprised if the committee has the will to do it. So far, it seems as if the city has ignored the problem.

But to simply require them to put their name on their stuff, as well as a phone number to report damage, is such a small step that we can’t imagine it would say no to Crawford’s request.

We’ll soon find out what the politicians on the works committee are made of.

Source : TheStar

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