Partnership for broadband project inked

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Partners and service areas have been set for a project led by Big Lakes County to upgrade broadband utilities.

At its regular meeting Sept. 12, council agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding.

“It’s to get a commitment from partners to proceed with the project,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

Big Lakes County serves as the hub for the project that includes municipalities and Indigenous communities.

“The MOU signifies a commitment from Big Lakes County and the surrounding municipalities to explore and promote the concept of a regional broadband network that would ultimately serve our communities,” acting CAO Jordan Panasiuk writes in a report to council.

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 in the Slave Lake area.

“This memorandum of understanding is to ensure that all partners agree to participate in the planning, construction and operation of an open regional broadband network,” the document states.

Partners agree to make an effort to achieve the overall goal to provide the infrastructure necessary for broadband access to every citizen within their communities.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission recently declared that well-developed broadband infrastructure is essential for rural and Indigenous Canadians to participate in the economy.

Partners agree to the declaration and understand the real value of broadband to their communities.

Council awarded a contract at its regular meeting July 25 to develop broadband inter- net service to Taylor Warwick and Magna Engineering Services and contribute $466,157 as the county’s portion for the full cost of $521,630.

Construction to launch pilot projects for High Prairie and Joussard could come just in time for government funding next year when a provincial election is planned for May and a federal election in October, Matthews said in July.

 

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