Annual Report

External Relations
Chebucto Community Net
April 23/97


Although members of the Chebucto Board have played important roles in supporting other communities in the Province as well as in contributing to regional, provincial and national organizations, 1996 was the first year CCN assigned a Board Position to the task of External Relations. It appears there will be a continuing need for such a position and the need is likely to grow. However, the role of this Board Member is likely to change from year to year depending on the focus Chebucto wishes to take with respect to other organizations to which it belongs. For instance this year because CCN is hosting the Telecommunities Canada annual conference, this activity is occupying much of this Board Members time. A second emphasis has been the participation in the Industry Canada Community Access Program Advisory Committee which is responsible for funding rural communities wishing to provide community access either through a net or access site(s). In addition to being on the CAP committee, membership is also held on the Executive of the Nova Scotia Federation of Community Nets and the Board of Telecommunities Canada and I have links with NovaKnowledge and the Provinces Technology Recycling Program. The latter program is now being used by Doug Rigby as a source of equipment for Chebucto's Public Access Sites.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Murdoch one of the founding members of Chebucto who has spent many hours in Chebucto's extension efforts.

Broadening the Reach of Chebucto

During the year several Board members worked with three organizations encouraging them to participate in Chebucto. The first of these is the Pier 21 Society, the second is the Native Council and the third the Halifax Regional Development Agency. In the case of Pier 21 Robert Adams had previously worked with them in assessing their needs and assisting them in their preliminary efforts. At this point David Trueman and Ben Armstrong are assisting this organization which has rather special needs. Following initial meetings with representatives of the Native Council Doug Rigby has arranged for HTML training.

Nova Scotia Federation of Community Nets (NSFCN)

Chebucto is one of the founding members of NSFCN and has played a major role in its activities. In fact the incentive for NSFCN came from the initial CCN working group which saw a need for support for other communities in Nova Scotia wishing to develop community nets. At this point as one of the three CCN representatives, I am the Vice Chair. Because the Chair is located in Yarmouth, I am often required to assume the role of Chair.

As a result of the role Chebucto plays in NSFCN, during the year CCN has provided support for two community nets which are now up and running - Windsor/Western Hants and Colchester - and for a number of other communities which are at earlier stages of development - Chester, Bridgewater and Pictou. It is important to distinguish between the technical support which is provided to these communities by Chebucto which is the role of the Technical Committee and the organizational support role which is provided by External Relations. During the early stages of development I attended nearly all of the meetings of the new community groups. As the community organizations have matured the contact has been much less frequent.

Telecommunities Canada

Chebucto has been an active member of the Telecommunities Canada (TC) organization since its inception in 1994. At the 96 Conference in Edmonton I was elected to the Board of Directors with responsibility for the Atlantic Region. At this point there are no official members of TC and all community nets are encouraged to participate. Membership status is likely to be a topic for discussion at the 97 Annual Meeting. With the growth of the Community Access Sites funded by Industry Canada a new source of membership is emerging and it is hoped TC will be recognized as the umbrella organization for all such groups. At this point all of the larger community nets in the country are members but participation is rather uneven.

TC97 Aug 15th - 18th

Since last September the Planning Committee has been meeting bi-weekly. At this point we have concluded arrangements for the facilities at Dalhousie; prepared and distributed a call for presentations; begun preliminary negotiations with major sponsors: Industry Canada, mbanx and Sympatico; established a WEB site; begun work on registration arrangements and a communications plan. Last year at the Annual Meeting we called for volunteers and we are doing so again this year. We particularly require a treasurer, people to assist with the program and people to participate in a number of functions during the conference.

We will be having a session for IPs and all will be invited to attend. A number of the groups will be asked to make short presentations to outline their uses of Chebucto and the benefits to their organizations.

We are pleased to report that Industry Canada is intending to use the Halifax Conference as an opportunity to consult on the recommendations of the Information Highway Access Committee which will be publishing its report in May.

We hope that a significant number of the Chebucto members will take advantage of the conference to meet others from Canada as well as from a number of countries to discuss community networking and its role in community building.

Presentations on Community Networking

During the year there were a number of presentations at which demonstrations of Chebucto were featured. David Trueman. David Murdoch and I will be making a presentation on community networking at the Topshee Conference to be held on June 22.