When the town unexpectedly recalled Olds Institute’s (OI) loan some weeks ago, my husband and I were both surprised and concerned.
As early supporters of OI, its community concept, and its consistent reliability in planning and fulfilling the plans laid before the community, we found it difficult to believe that the organization could have defaulted on a payment. OI had not. As with others, we hoped that the slight positive hints from the town would lead to clarification. This has not happened and the situation seems more muddled than at first.
OI is Olds’ jewel. That a town of our size has a fibre optic system for both the business and private sectors is almost unbelievable. Way back when OI was just an idea, the group of dedicated people who began OI explored what was needed to keep Olds vibrant for the future. These were our own town people, many deeply involved in the businesses and lives of the town. What they decided was that Olds needed the best communication system possible and they set out to find how we could have it. The result was O-Net.
Not only did the group that formed Olds Institute propose to give us this system through O-Net, they stated that when the company began to profit from the enterprise, those earnings would be used for the benefit of the citizens of our town. Now how could anyone turn that down? As with any brand new idea, there were naysayers when the fibre optic system was introduced for us — right here in Olds. Some said it would cost too much. Others didn’t want change. Others felt Olds didn’t need it? Many didn’t expect O-Net to ever make a profit.
Despite all of this criticism, OI went on to deliver the fibre optics high speed internet and, later, both electrical and gas service to the community. The little giant in Olds collaborated with companies the size of Fortis to find innovative service where needed. Our family signed with O-Net before cable was laid in our area. When the change was made, O-Net completed all transactions for uninterrupted service of Internet and TV. The inevitable glitches with equipment that we experienced (together with our electronic ineptitude) were quickly fixed by O-Net’s friendly, free service. Additional channels have been added and maintenance is done in the wee hours when practically no on is disturbed.
With such a service right here in Olds, why wouldn’t OI be overwhelmed with customers? This has puzzled me. There are always the die-hards who can’t see advantages in anything new, and there are those who won’t pay a penny more even if it gives them and others additional help. But I found the people of Olds to be more than sensible when the endeavor is worthwhile, especially if it helps others. OI is not a town enterprise. It has received backing form the town because of the unique purpose it can give the community. OI needs your support to remain viable. Everyone in Olds should consider using O-Net, Mountain View Power and Mountain View Gas.
Now back to the town. The greatest service a body — individual or corporate — can give when they work with people, is trust. We in Olds have been fortunate to have a town council that has given us several years of open dialogue with its citizens as well as being expansive and innovative. Because of COVID-19, the last few months have demanded sacrifices that no one expected. In addition, respect for authority has been disrupted in major sectors of our lives as seen by the many demonstrations across Canada and the U.S. recently. To be jolted by the town council’s announcement that they suspect an historically supported organization again disturbed the public trust. Either the organization had done something wrong or the town was wrongly accused. Why was the town doing this?
We need answers from the town. If mistakes have been made, tell us. Council members have an obligation to maintain public trust. This is no time for insinuation or secrecy. The town placed confidence in OI by backing it through it inception. Negotiate as you should. We welcome clarification from the town.