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OBSERVER POLL: Should the city sell DMTS?

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.


Is it none of your business?

So this week’s hot-button poll issue was a bit of a stunt on our part.

Continually touted as a local taxpayer asset, I’ve always had a great deal of trouble with the fact that any information about DMTS that is reported to Dryden City Council is guarded from public scrutiny — an in-camera matter.

We get dribs and drabs here and there, the odd detail leaked — like the recent operational review, which was never intended to be public knowledge.

From my profession’s point of view there’s a fundamental difference of opinion over the level of transparency that should exist, or what exactly DMTS is as a business entity and what their relationship to the taxpayer should be — an argument that’s not likely to be settled without involving an Ombudsman.

And as complacent as a small-town journalist must be to survive, the gray areas in which public/private business entities ‘have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too’ are a source of constant democratic unease.

So, when rumours and innuendo coalesced last week into an indication that community leaders would face a decision behind closed doors on what to do with our municipally-owned telecom, I wondered what role the taxpayers should have in the discussion.

We asked you a question on our website that, in the view of our local government, is none of your business.

You responded like indeed it was your business.

I took some flak over the original wording of the question, which a critic said misled people into believing DMTS was experiencing difficulties — something that’s been neither confirmed nor denied. The question was simplified on Friday.

Given the lack of information out there, it’s undeniable that members of the public are about as qualified to opine about the future of DMTS as I am. Which is hardly at all. Shut out of the vision and goals of the company, we have little more than our experience as customers to help us frame our responses.

In hindsight, a better question might have asked whether or not residents believe they have a stake in the future of DMTS.

Despite an active role as a good corporate citizen in the community in recent years, I get the sense that a significant part of the community feels estranged, reluctant to fully embrace and utilize DMTS.

If that is at all true, then this policy of needlessly guarding the company’s broad-strokes vision, goals and challenges from the public would only prevent them from winning over valuable hearts and minds, not to mention the enduring patience of a tax-paying customer base who want to feel more of a personal stake.

‘Where are you heading? What’s the plan?’

Publicly-owned utilities are a fading part of Canadians’ sense of identity — look at the unease that lingers to this day over the sale of the city’s hydro electric generating assets.

In the hyper-competitive world of telecommunications, there are certainly concerns over keeping operational details secret. Nor is it necessary to involve the public in day-to-day decision-making.

What is necessary, if you’re going to lay claim to the title of public asset, is an effort to cultivate a valuable personal stake in each and every customer.

Chris Marchand



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14 thoughts on “OBSERVER POLL: Should the city sell DMTS?

  1. Who says Bell is the only suitor? Maybe they will sell to another company like Shaw or Tbaytel, both of whom offer cheaper home phone and internet rates than DMTS.

    If you ask the people of Kenora if the sale of KMTS to Bell was a good deal, most will tell you it wasn’t.

    Should council decide to sell, I hope they sell it to tbaytel so the jobs can remain local. I fear Bell and Shaw would gut the local operation and handle customer service from a national call centre that knows nothing about our city.

    My sister in law works at tbaytel and I know for a fact they make good money.

  2. Let’s remember that DMTS is more than a cell phone provider.

    Are we forgetting about home and business phones? Do you really want to deal with Ma Bell?

    I haven’t heard anything about selling off the cell service and keeping the rest, have you?

  3. Does anyone else realize that DMTS is not a cell phone company?

    Every residential and business land line would be very NEGATIVELY affected by a DMTS sell-off. Ask anyone who pays Bell’s monthly blood money just how good DMTS residential customers have it with their municipal service!

  4. Ah, but remember also, DMTS is NOT just a CELL PHONE company. This isn’t just selling off their CELL SERVICE. This includes every single land line in the city. And let me tell you – the price difference between DMTS and Bell for a simple phone line into your home? That’s what drove me to cut my Bell landline in the first place. I get a phone line with unlimited long distance for LESS than I paid Bell for a no service, long distance extra phone line. Two DMTS cells were a cheaper option!!

    Yes, everyone talks cells, but forgets entirely that DMTS provides more service than just cells. THAT is the part I would hate to see go. Should they sell off just the mobility division? Maybe. But they’d never break the two apart. It would be an all or nothing. In which case, I’d rather see nothing.

  5. I assume employees will be safe if the company is sold. They still have to provide service and there are lots of really good people there so I hope they would be employed by the purchasers.
    It is difficult dealing with the limitations of DMTS.

  6. It’s my understanding that the mayor himself noted that the independent consultant review suggested that we are sitting on a potential goldmine for the City if managed to it’s greater potential. I think that after all the resources that have gone into establishing the regional network of towers that we (the city/taxpayers) should be giving full support for the continued ownership of DMTS. Cell service is improving in my opinion and this community can’t afford to lose any more jobs; everyone in town should be signed on with DMTS. Customer service there is top notch. This isn’t a time to be thinking small or for short term gain derived from the sale of DMTS. IMO to sell is a major error we can’t afford to make.

  7. Ohh! Divisive.. On one side the DMTS employees and friends who literally will be fighting for their jobs..

    On the other the mostly disinterested residents of Dryden who are tired of putting up with crappy cell service while hearing that they have to “so their taxes won’t go up”.

    Throw in an entire generation of teens who turn their nose up at all things DMTS and you end up with a potentially explosive situation!

    I’ll be watching this one!

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