Telecom Procedural Letter Addressed to Michel Cantin (City of Gatineau) and Mathieu Quenneville (Carriers)

Ottawa, 30 May 2017

Our reference: 8690-V81-201703231

BY EMAIL

Mr. Michel Cantin
Bélanger Sauvé, attorneys, LLP
Representing the City of Gatineau
5 Place Ville Marie, Suite 900
Montreal, Quebec  H8B 2G2
mcantin@belangersauve.com

Mr. Mathieu Quenneville
Prévost Fortin D’Aoust, attorneys
Representing the Carriers
20845 De la Côte du Nord Road, Suite 500
Boisbriand, Quebec  J7E 4H5
m.quenneville@pfdavocats.com

RE: Request for a stay or deferral of the Part I application filed by the City of Gatineau for a Municipal Access Agreement

Dear Sirs:

In December 2012, Bell Canada, Videotron G.P., Rogers Communications G.P., Telus Communications Company and Cogeco Cable Inc. (collectively, the Carriers) brought legal proceedings against the City of Gatineau (Gatineau) before the Superior Court of Quebec bringing an action in nullity with regard to municipal bylaw number 718-2012 and seeking a declaratory judgment.Footnote1 They argue that the bylaw and subsequent amendments are constitutionally invalid and inoperative, considering that their purpose is to regulate telecommunications and broadcasting matters under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada and that they are in conflict with the Telecommunications Act (the Act) and interfere with the exercise of the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada.

On April 13, 2017, the Commission received a Part I application from Gatineau for the approval of a proposed Municipal Access Agreement (MAA). Gatineau indicated that it had negotiated in recent years with the Carriers, but that some points had not been agreed on yet. It indicated that no agreement currently seemed possible between the parties and asked for a decision by the Commission that would approve the terms and conditions of an MAA with the Carriers.

On May 3, 2017, the Carriers asked the Commission for a stay of its examination of the application by Gatineau until the Superior Court can rule on the constitutionality of the Gatineau bylaw. They added that the hearing will take place from May 23 to June 12, 2017 and that the judgment to be rendered is likely to become a judgement in principle. In the event of the Commission’s denial of the request for a stay, the Carriers requested that the time limit for responding to Gatineau’s application be deferred for 30 days after the end of the hearing before the Superior Court on July 12, 2017.

On May 5, 2017, Gatineau submitted a letter to the Commission contesting the Carriers’ request for a stay or a deferral. The City argued that conducting the two proceedings in parallel could not lead to contradictory conclusions as the constitutionality of the bylaw had nothing to do with the request for the MAA made to the Commission. The City added that the application of the bylaw specifically excludes work that is subject to an MAA. On May 9, 2017, the Carriers reiterated their request for a stay.

On May 11, 2017, a letter indicating that the delays associated with the Part 1 proceeding were suspended to allow the Commission to render a decision on the request for a stay sent to the parties by the Carriers.

The Commission is of the opinion that it is neither necessary nor appropriate for the Commission to stay the Part I application until a final judgment is rendered by the Superior Court of Quebec. An application has been brought before the Commission to establish the terms and conditions of access of some telecommunications Carriers in public places for which Gatineau is the competent authority. The Act gives the Commission the authority to rule on this type of application when there is a disagreement about access terms and conditions between a municipality and telecommunications carriers. The Superior Court of Quebec received a constitutional challenge regarding the validity, application or operability of Gatineau Bylaw No. 718-2012, which is a completely different issue.

Consequently, the Commission denies the Carriers’ request for a stay. The deadline for filing comments regarding the Part I application is therefore fixed at 16 June 2017, and the proceeding will subsequently continue as planned, Gatineau having up to 27 June 2017 to file its response.

Sincerely,

Original signed by

Danielle May-Cuconato
Secretary General

c. c.: Josiane Lord, CRTC, josiane.lord@crtc.gc.ca  
Bell Canada, bell.regulatory@bell.ca
Cogeco, telecom.regulatory@cogeco.com
Rogers Communications, rwi_gr@rci.rogers.com
TELUS Communications, regulatory.affairs@telus.com
Videotron, regaffairs@quebecor.com

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