New strategy to improve broadband in Sturgeon County
Sturgeon County Council has declared that high-speed internet is a necessity, not a luxury, for its residents and businesses. On December 8, Council approved a new broadband strategy to improve internet access throughout the County.
“We can no longer afford to wait when it comes to high-speed internet,” said Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “Residents and business have told us there are significant issues with internet service in the region and studies have proven there is a huge rate of return for every dollar invested in broadband. This new strategy will address both our local quality of life and economic development – it’s win-win.”
Sturgeon County has developed a six-phase approach to improving broadband or high-speed access for residents and businesses. This includes starting with a pilot project in the Villeneuve area.
“The Villeneuve Airport and the Pro North Industrial Park are key economic drivers for the County,” said Mayor Hnatiw. “This project will benefit a large number of residents as well as assist in attracting businesses and investment to the region and we look forward to exploring opportunities to partner with other organizations.”
As part of the 2021 budget deliberations, Council approved up to $7.3 million for improving broadband connectivity within the pilot project area. Council will explore other funding options and partnerships, including grant funding through the federal government’s Universal Broadband Fund to reduce the County’s financial contribution.
“Sturgeon County has been working on addressing the lack of reliable, affordable internet in our region for years, particularly with Councillor Wayne Bokenfohr’s work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a national broadband strategy,” said Mayor Hnatiw. “Thanks to such efforts, we’re now at a point where we can start to turn our advocacy into action.”
The next step will be a Request for Proposals (RFP) to engage a partner in the construction and operation of the broadband infrastructure. Further information on the project, including costs and the award of an RFP, will come back to Council in the first quarter of 2021.
Results of the resident and business survey and speed test conducted in August and September 2020 are available at sturgeoncounty.ca/internet. The site will also be updated to include information on the Sturgeon County Broadband Strategy.
Jackie Sargent, SCMP
Senior Communications Officer, Corporate Communications
P:587-983-8257or E: email@example.com