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City council signs off on the final sale of DMTS

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Mayor Craig Nuttall signs off on the final sale of DMTS at the Oct. 3 committee meeting of the whole while Thunder Bay lawyer, Michael Strickland, who has been negotiating this deal since July 2012, stands nearby. Photo by Lindsey Enns

Story by Lindsey Enns

It was a bittersweet moment for city council members as they unanimously voted in favour to accept offers from both Tbaytel and Bell Aliant to purchase the assets of the Dryden Municipal Telephone System (DMTS).

During an emotional committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 3, councillors discussed what DMTS employees and what the local mobility telephone service has meant to the community over the past 100 years.

“This really is a bittersweet moment for council,” councillor Brian Collins said.

After two rounds of city council meetings and a public information session held for local residents on Sept. 27, members of city council granted the final authorization for the sale.

Councillor Shayne MacKinnon says that although the sale of DMTS will provide some financial relief for the community, he recognizes that this is a difficult time for DMTS employees.

“We’ve been served by dedicated and forward thinking DMTS employees who sacrificed much of their lives to make this business run,” MacKinnon said.

“The sale of the city assets will create some relief for the community but has created anxiety and hardship for many of the faithful employees and for that I am truly sorry.”

He adds that he hopes the Dryden community will be able to move forward together in the upcoming months.

“We can’t turn back the hands of time to think about what may have been, but we can think about our future as a community and this dark chapter may be forgotten one day but the people in our community will go on.”

Effective as of Oct. 22, Tbaytel will have full ownership of DMTS wireless services and Bell Aliant will take over the DMTS landline and Internet on Jan. 1, 2013. Bell Aliant has purchased DMTS for $4.5 million while Tbaytel’s offer has yet to be disclosed.

Mayor Craig Nuttall says that he is relieved that the deal went through and that it was something that just had to be done. He added that the city was loosing nearly $300,000 a month on the services alone.

“It’s a sad day that these employees will be loosing their jobs, I hope that Bell Aliant and Tbaytel will take some of them but it’s entirely up to them.”

Nuttall says that the money received from both offers will be put towards the city’s deficit.

“We have a heck of a debt but this is going to help a bit but we’re still going to have to look at every department.”

The two tower locations included in the sale are located in Wabigoon and Southworth Township. As part of the agreement, the DMTS offices inside city hall will be leased for one dollar a year for 10 years.

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