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August 11, 2005 Board Minutes

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Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
August 11, 2005


  • Mark Alberstat
  • Bob Ashley
  • Tom Daly
  • Ed Dyer
  • Marilyn MacDonald
  • Bill Matheson
  • Tanya Moxley
  • Alan Turner


  • Dale Crory
  • Bernie Hart
  • John McKay
  • Marni Tuttle

Minutes of Previous Meeting

Alan / Mark moved approval of last month's minutes as circulated. CARRIED

HRM Dark Fibre Project:

John Sherwood is here as a guest to talk to us on this matter. He helped get our ACORN membership cost reduced (Thank You!). Thanks also to John for his assistance over the years with CCN's operations in various ways. He is here to talk to us about Dark Fibre and how it might help us expand our presence.

John Sherwood: What is DF? Fibre in general is the current de-facto standard in hi-speed internet. Data travels along the thin strand of glass within the cable as light. The capacity is enormous. It used inter-continentally as well as loca lly, since the mid-80s. In 1997 when Dalhousie amalgamated with TUNS they needed to connect the two campuses. Legislation in the mid-90s allowed 'non-dominant' carriers to run fibre along poles and underground along with the cables of dominant carriers su ch as Aliant (which owns the poles). The carrier has nothing to do with equipment that sends or receives the data, that's why it's called 'dark'. Dal's original carrier went broke, and Dal bought the fibre, which included a lot of excess capacity. There a re 36 pairs in each strand, and each pair has one piece for sending and one for receiving. Dal is now the non-dominant carrier and leases out pairs to SMU, the hospitals, etc... They are the only university to be doing so currently. Having this kind of c apacity lets them do lots of cool things in residences, etc... The Fenwick camera uses the fibre ring to send data back to our servers at Dal.

They now have 20 fibre drops in the ring around the peninsula / downtown (up from 9-10 originally). The costs of the infrastructure are quite reasonable given the lifetime of the technology (20 years). Drops can be added fairly easily and at not too much cost. The city is now a partner in development and is working with other partners to add on pieces to the ring for NSCC campuses and other corporations in Dartmouth such as BIO and INNOVACorp.

A new project is underway to connect to Annapolis Valley. The Valley itself is already wired from Middleton to Meteaghan (sp?), including community centres, libraries, etc... It is currently standalone. Acadia is involved in building the p iece to Halifax. This new piece will connect to Dal's ring at the Killam Library. For now there is funding in place to get to Kentville; to Middleton is still awaiting confirmation of funding.

What does this have to do with CCN? Fibre such as to the Valley would allow us to service remote locations thru local dial-ups. They could then 'reach' to servers in Halifax at a reasonable speed. We could also have remote physical locati ons like a library? Maybe a CCN wireless site in the Valley? The InnovaCorp drop is on a nice high hill - a good spot for a wireless tower?

Costs. If someone wants a drop on the Dal ring there is an up-front cost to build the drop and annual recurring costs. The Valley link would likely cost more because of the current capital costs - he can't say for sure about that one, beca use it's not Dal's system. He doesn't think they have worked out stuff like recurring costs yet.

It might be possible for us to 'piggy-back' on somebody else's (like Acadia) connection along the new piece, which would reduce our costs but not really have much impact on their capacity. The community colleges might be a better fit for us, as they have lots of locations, several in the Valley.

Marilyn - we have nothing particular in mind right now, but we hope John will keep us in mind in case of future ideas.

Ed - what would it cost for equipment on our end to 'light up' a fibre switch? The routers and switches within the city would cost $7-800, but then it's another $4000 for every 50-70km of distance.

What is the capacity of each pair? About 10Gb with reasonably-priced equipment. Lots more with really expensive equipment.

John departs.

Board Membership

Bob is moving as of Sept. 1 to Berwick. What are our options? It might be valuable to us to have someone in the Valley area, given our discussions with John. He wouldn't be able to attend meetings regularly enough to remain a Board member , but perhaps he could perform some other function for us in that area. On the other hand, we could consider adding a teleconference option to our meetings (there are meeting rooms with such facilities). It might be helpful to us to have a contact in that area, depending on what we want to do. Bob feels he should resign, but wishes to remain in touch as a resource in that area for any projects we wish to undertake. Marilyn accepts his resignation (with regret), although we look forward to possible futur e projects!

Bob will remain a member of Policy Committee.

How shall we deal with the vacancy? Marilyn will look back through the list of those who spoke up in response to her e-mail about Board members earlier in the year. She will check with John if he wants to spearhead a Nominating group with a few other people.

Working Group Reports

Volunteer Recruitment (Bill): Group met July 20th for an hour (Alan, Tanya, Marni, Bill). Tanya & Marni circulated some info to the group list re: volunteer & staff job descriptions. They'll meet again shortly. Next steps: c larify roles, frame a 'project' (HRSDC), ask other Board members about volunteer roles filled in the past.

- Office help is needed, particularly with filing and answering the phone.
- There is an issue currently with needing more people to answer "userhelp" questions. (Apparently there is a public archive of questions and answers that have been sent to and by userhelp).
- Bill will drop by the office next Thursday to discuss possibilities with Andrew.

Business Plan (Bob): Group hasn't met (Bob, Dale, Tanya), but have chatted online a fair bit. Have shared some links re: business planning for non-profits. We need to clarify and reduce our scope to something manageable. Next steps: what are reasonable outcomes for this process, that volunteers can manage. Bob will be withdrawing from this project because of his resignation and it's too much work for a remote 'consultant'. The committee structure doesn't facilitate planning; there i s a lot of overlap.

This group could come back to the next meeting with a list of what we think is included in the scope of this little group (and some ideas on the first couple of them?), and get some direction on what to tackle.

Challenge - we need to pick a direction and clarify the work before we re-arrange the committee structure.

Clear agreement that user service is our number one priority!

Can we get help from students in an MBA program to build a business plan?

Online Donations

How aggressively can / should / do we promote that we are a charity, and seek donations?

Can we put something on the 'splash' cell (web site home page) about supporting Internet for someone who can't afford it? We do have some members that ask to join for little/free because of limited income. We could recruit donations to hav e around for those who ask us for this. Andrew will draft something and send it to the Board list. This will include requests for volunteer time.


Committee Reports

Technical Committee

- The new UPS is installed and currently serving some of the hardware. Prioritization of systems and how to shut things down in an orderly way is under consideration. At the moment it's a bit haphazard what stays up for how long.
- Andrew & Johnathan need to go for safety recertification @ $100 each so they can legally work on Fenwick Tower. General agreement.
- Johnathan has been upgrading our Linux servers to the current version. The Sun servers have not been upgraded yet.
- Ed went to the ACORN meeting this week. It was interesting to see what's happening with various projects. There are substantial grants available for doing some of these projects. It's not clear to Ed what kind of $$ might be available for the kind of scale of thing we would be interested in.
- They were glad to hear our Thank You for reducing our membership fee.

Finance Committee

- here's nothing on the statements that's particularly unexpected.
- We are ahead of target/budget on Income and Expenses.
- The change in ACORN fee has been accounted for, but the Budget hasn't been modified.
- Andrew's numbers don't match with Bernie's. This has been going on for some time but has yet to be resolved. Marilyn will remind Bernie to come in to meet with Andrew.

Policy Committee

- Terms of the membership reward program have been updated to account for Chebucto Plus membership changes.
- Next item: Photograph release so we can take and post on the web site photos of happy Chebucto users working on their computers. Bob has sent Andrew some drafts already.

External Committee

- Letter to membership has been sent re: acquainting them with current services. Purpose: to encourage members to be ambassadors for CCN. We don't have a way to track effectiveness.
- Flying Cow (FC) ads have been designed and submitted. They will start appearing in Halifax and Bedford starting August 15th for 26 weeks. FC estimates that this reaches 15,000 people. We are able to change the ad copy every 2 weeks if we want to. The ad copy was circulated at the meeting and received positive feedback.
- We have contracted to the Coast for a quarter page in the back-to-school edition at a cost of $220 + tax (non-profit rate). Marni facilitated this process and also asked if we could be included in the 'services' list.
- Tanya handed out the business cards that were requested, ten per Board member. Those for people not here will be left in the office and more will be brought for them at the next meeting.
- om asked whether we might consider a Coast ad in the pre-Christmas edition, too - particularly if we gets indications from new-account people that the Coast ad worked.
- The business cards and FC ads are the only ad stuff that gives the office address as instead of, so that might be a way to track effectiveness of these items.

Internal Committee

- Bill asked that we consider the previously-discussed Volunteer group report as the Internal report.



Bill moved that we adjourn at 8:25 PM.

Next Meeting

Sept. 8, 2005 6:30 PM





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