County prepares to market broadband

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A campaign by Big Lakes County to promote the regional broadband project will soon be launched to gain support to connect residents and businesses.

At its regular meeting Oct. 24, council endorsed an application to seek provincial funding from the Community and Regional Economic Development Supports (CARES) Program under Alberta Economic Development and Trade.

“This will be good to promote the benefits of the broadband project to get people connected to affordable, quality and reliable service,” Reeve Richard Simard says.

Under the recommendation by acting CAO Jordan Panasiuk, council also consented to contribute up to $18,750 for the project in the 2019 budget.

The Town of High Prairie has agreed to submit the application for $75,000, with 50 per cent from the province and 25 per cent each from the town and county, he adds.

Panasiuk says the campaign is the missing link in the project.

“If we go ahead with the project, it will be critical that people are aware of the project and the benefits it will provide,” Panasiuk says in a report to council.

“By investing in marketing and community awareness, we will get a better sign-up rate which will provide more revenue to the county.”

Workshops are being planned to reach as many stakeholder groups and possible, including residents, elected officials, local businesses, service groups, service providers, regional partners and other local partners such as chambers of commerce, school divisions and Indigenous communities.

Magna Engineering Services principal Jen- nifer Massig has been contracted to facilitate the community engagement campaign. She has more than 20 years experience facilitating public engagement workshops in community broadband.

Plans for the broadband project are scheduled to be ready to start construction in September 2019.

Project partners include the Town of High Prairie, the Town of Swan Hills, Gift Lake Metis Settlement, East Prairie Metis Settlement, Peavine Metis Settlement, the M.D. of Smoky River, the Town of Falher, the Town of McLennan, the Village of Donnelly, the Village of Girouxville and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

 

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