Know Your Rights of Way Member Survey Report: Present Achievements and Future Opportunities
Introduction Thank you to all those who took the time to participate in the 2011 Know Your Rights of Way Members Survey. We received a strong response from our online community and are pleased to share our findings with you. This report will highlight the ways in which respondent municipalities are managing their rights of ways and areas where community assistance and issue development may be needed. If you have any questions about the survey or the report please email Michael MacLean at [email_address] .ca .
<ul><li>Overview of Surveyed Municipalities </li></ul><ul><li>Rights of Way management issues remain a high priority for a majority of municipalities surveyed. Over 60% of respondents identified rights of way issues as High/Medium priority or above for their municipality (Appx 1A). While they remain high on municipal radars, progress is undoubtedly being made towards an equitable relationship between municipalities and organizations that access their rights of ways. According to the data provided by our membership: </li></ul><ul><li>51% of municipalities surveyed identified their relationship with telecom companies as good or very good (Appx 1B); </li></ul><ul><li>50% of respondents use either Municipal Access Agreements (MAA) or bylaws, and often both, to control access to their Rights of Ways; </li></ul><ul><li>12.5% of respondent municipalities are engaging in group negotiations with Telecommunication companies and fellow municipalities to bargain from a position of collective strength; </li></ul><ul><li>37.5% of respondents are in daily or weekly communication with the telecommunication companies accessing their rights of ways, and a majority of those maintain standing utility committees to facilitate that communication. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Opportunities for Further Success </li></ul><ul><li>There remain those in the online community that stand to benefit greatly through increased collaborative community efforts, as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>30% of respondents had no formalized measures in place to manage their rights of ways, or were still reliant on one-on-one negotiations for rights of way management; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10% of respondents reported a poor or non-existent relationship with telecommunications companies that accessed their ROW(Appx 1B); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>35% of respondents identified longevity and safety of externally accessed infrastructure as a major concern(Appx 1C); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20% identified repair/inspection/relocation cost recovery methods as the issue of most urgency for their municipality(Appendix 1C); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>28% are primarily concerned with effective infrastructure development planning in light of obstacles posed by external ROW access (Appx 1C); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>55% of members surveyed do not have a full list of telecommunications and utilities that access their rights of ways, with a higher percentage lacking a complete map of telecom and utility infrastructure in their municipalities; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>85% of respondents were unable to provide figures or estimates regarding what non-municipal ROW access costs their municipalities. </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Reported Cost Estimates </li></ul><ul><li>To derive a current picture of ROW costs respondents were asked to provide any cost estimates their municipality had concerning ROW access from external actors. Costing ROW access has consistently proved difficult due to numerous factors outlined by respondents, including: </li></ul><ul><li>Variability of costs based on different geographical areas within a given municipality (ex. Downtown core vs.. Residential areas); </li></ul><ul><li>The difficulty in calculating indirect costs like shortened service life of infrastructure due to external access, and ambiguity of accurately calculating non-infrastructure related social costs like traffic disruption; </li></ul><ul><li>The difficulty of tracking costs disbursed throughout a diffuse network of municipal business units; </li></ul><ul><li>The absence of a holistic model of what external ROW access costs communities. </li></ul><ul><li>Reported Recuperative Cost Devices </li></ul><ul><li>Some respondent municipalities self-reported their cost recovery methods as an indicator of where there ROW costs accrue, the list of recuperative devices include: </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Permit Fees - include processing fees, application fees & noncompliance penalties </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Inspection Fees - with clear schedules and standards for road restoration work </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Pavement Degradation Fees - variable depending on the age of the infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Plan and Review Fee - in some cases variable based on installation length </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Lost Productivity - for specific cases with documentation </li></ul><ul><li>/-/ Lost Meter Revenue </li></ul>
Reported Costs and Averages The limitations of accurately calculating costs and estimates outlined above resulted in only 15% of those surveyed providing any estimates of external ROW access costs. Despite the low report rate there was still high variability in reported costs: - Lowest reported ROW access cost $0 annually (with the second lowest standing at $1,000 annually); - Highest reported annual cost was $650,000 (notably provided by the most densely populated municipality to provide estimates); - Overall Average Cost of external ROW access based on the numbers provided = $185,000 annually. 80% of the municipalities that provided estimates had Populations Over 100,000. Factoring only those municipalities results in a Lowest reported annual cost of external ROW access being $100, 000, the Highest remaining $650,000 annually, and an Average Annual Cost of $267,500 for municipalities with a population over 100,000. As Further data in the area of cost identification and recovery has the potential to benefit everyone in the online community: Please post your municipalities documents on cost recovery devices by CLICKING HERE , outline your municipalities cost recovery methods and pricing rubrics in the corresponding forum by CLICKING HERE , or join the conversation concerning representative cost recovery devices by CLICKING HERE .
Current Community Requests and Concerns When asked to identify what types of information would provide the greatest benefit to our community there were relatively consistent requests. The following outlines those requests accompanied with hyperlinks to assist members in providing this information to the community: Municipal Access Agreements One Quarter of respondents identified unique MAA examples as the most useful resource for their municipality. There is a genuine desire to learn from each other and identify what different municipalities are including in their MAAs, both to gain new tactics in controlling rights of ways more effectively and in receiving fair compensation for costs incurred by access to their rights of ways. There is also a desire to see what works in other municipalities, and what telecommunications providers have agreed to in terms of access. To see the MAAs currently available in the resource section of the website CLICK HERE To upload your municipalities MAA(s) PLEASE CLICK HERE
<ul><li>Infrastructure Longevity </li></ul><ul><li>The top concern held by polled municipalities centers around the safety and longevity of infrastructure that has been subject to cuts and repairs performed by non-municipal actors. The primary interests in adequate cuts and repairs include: </li></ul><ul><li>a desire to receive uniform high quality replacement work by telecommunications companies and utilities; </li></ul><ul><li>the hidden costs of sub par cuts and fills and their subsequent repair and replacement before the projected end of the life cycle of the infrastructure; </li></ul><ul><li>the public liability of poor quality road work; </li></ul><ul><li>basic esthetics of the work in terms of overall image and design of municipal infrastructure. </li></ul><ul><li>All these issues speak to a growing need for a more assured and uniform road work standard of quality from those accessing and cutting into municipal ROW, supplemented by a more rigorous inspection structure. </li></ul><ul><li>This issue has recently been raised by the City of Calgary in a forum thread you can COMMENT ON HERE </li></ul><ul><li>To compare inspection structures and schedules please post your municipalities inspection policy documents BY CLICKING HERE </li></ul>
<ul><li>Municipally Owned & Leased Telecommunication Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>A developing strategy raised by respondents is the utilization or creation of municipally owned underground access ways or networks. A majority of interest in this area has focused on leasing underground duct/conduit space, noting practical benefits like: </li></ul><ul><li>Better mapping and organization of telecom infrastructure in the municipality; </li></ul><ul><li>Generating low overhead revenue while maintaining greater control over access to municipal rights of way; </li></ul><ul><li>Providing the potential for subsidized or no-cost municipal internet usage if stipulated as part of a duct/conduit leasing agreement. </li></ul><ul><li>At the forefront of underground leasing and network development is Coquitlam BC, who through their corporate subsidiary Qnet, has created a municipally owned fiber optic network that effectively links its downtown core to a modern high-speed internet network. Qnet leases their dark fiber to local telecom providers, maintaining control of its network structure and access while providing the city with substantial internet cost savings. Qnet also provides competitive low-cost internet access to its urban center, helping to ensure that Coquitlam businesses stay competitive. </li></ul><ul><li>To view a report on Qnet’s business model CLICK HERE . </li></ul><ul><li>If your municipality leases duct/conduit space please help those members developing these policies/practices and upload municipal documents regarding such lease agreements by CLICKING HERE or contribute to the forum thread on the topic by CLICKING HERE </li></ul>
Formulas for Calculating Costs Incurred by External ROW Access Another reported request from community members is standardizing cost recovery formulas across Canadian municipalities, while continuing to identify new areas and formulas that can be applied. As outlined in the costs section of this report, many municipalities find it difficult to properly cost, and recover the identified costs, of external actors accessing municipal ROW. To address this topic it is necessary to establish how community members calculate recoupable costs based on the CRTC guidelines established in the CRTC 2009 MTS Allstream v. City of Vancouver decision. The first step in this process is to have community members provide the cost recovery formulas they currently use to allow for a base standard to be identified. A further practical benefit of this strategy is that it provides a basic metric with which to establish what external ROW access truly costs individual municipalities. This strategy allows our community to build a more holistic cost recovery framework and facilitates municipalities ability to build upon each others’ successes. To take the first step in establishing standard formulas and methods of cost recovery: Share your municipality’s cost recovery methods and methodologies on the forum thread dedicated to the subject by CLICKING HERE Upload your municipality’s documents regarding cost recovery methods and formulas by CLICKING HERE
Unresolved Issues Managing Utility (Gas and Electric) Company Access to ROW The unresolved issue of highest concern to our membership is the absence of a uniform strategy to manage utility companies access to ROW as effectively as we do telecommunications companies. Based on self-reporting respondents to the members survey, negotiations with utilities are as difficult today as telecommunication negotiations were before the 2009 MTS Allstream decision and the popular use of MAAs. If your municipality has constructed an effective strategy for negotiating with utility companies or if your municipality has encountered difficulty in negotiating with utility companies please CLICKING HERE and share your experiences to facilitate progress on this unresolved issue. Predicting Telecommunication Industry Innovations and New Technology The expansion of rural networks, and the spectrum auction are expected to result in larger, more innovative networks being installed on municipal property. Some respondent municipalities want to know what to expect in terms of future network designs and infrastructure instillations. If your municipality is encountering telecommunication infrastructure you have not encountered before, or if new telecom infrastructure has resulted in installation or maintenance problems provide information about it in the new technology forum thread by CLICKING HERE .
Concluding Remarks & Future Directions The Know Your Rights Online Members Survey has provided a valuable snapshot of where community members are positioned in managing access to their rights of ways. Substantial progress has been made in ROW management, with over half of all respondents maintaining a good or very good relationship with telecom partners, and the same number employing MAAs and bylaws to produce more predictable and mutually beneficial relationships with external ROW actors. This progress is aided by the growing number of municipalities engaged in consistent communication and consultation with external agents who access their ROW. Despite this progress, however, there is still much more that can be done. A full 30% of respondents do not use formal controls, and still rely on one-on-one negotiations with external actors; 28% of respondents struggle to maintain municipal planning schedules in light of abrupt or unannounced external ROW access; despite effective controls many municipalities remain unsatisfied with infrastructure cuts and repairs performed by telecoms and utilities; and members can further benefit from comparing MAAs, cost recovery formulas, and applicable cost recovery fees with other municipalities. Based on the needs, and self-reported solutions to those needs as outlined in your survey responses, the difference between the issues we face now and those of even five years ago is that the solutions are available. Each community member and the municipality they represent are a wealth of knowledge. All that is necessary is to share that knowledge with each other. Upload your MAAs, share your cost recovery strategies, engage your peers on the issues your municipality is confronted with, use your document catalogue to engage in a conversation beyond your municipality or region. If this strategy is employed it will help address gaps in knowledge and strategy, allow for a better understanding of where we all stand, and more easily identify how we can expand upon that platform. The survey data presented in this document represents a glimpse at where our community members stand, but by sharing our documents, strategies, and knowledge we are presented with the opportunity to see our community grow.