Alberta is committed to closing the digital divide by providing millions of dollars to help expand Internet connectivity in rural communities. While the general manager of Pincher Creek looks forward to the changes to come, the town of Pincher Creek is unlikely to be affected by this advance.
The provincial government announced on Dec. 16 that it would contribute $ 150 million to the cause as part of the Canada-Alberta broadband partnership with the federal government.
This will be matched with additional funding from the federal government, which together will total $ 300 million. $ 50 million will be allocated to support Aboriginal businesses.
“This is an extremely important first step, a very exciting first step, but it is not the last step and this agreement leaves the door open for future collaboration between the Government of Alberta and the Federal Government. Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish said at a news conference. press conference. “It is a framework for charting our future steps together. ”
Don Anderberg, mayor of Pincher Creek, said the southern Alberta community is in fairly good shape compared to other rural towns and already has good internet connectivity.
“We already have this backbone infrastructure in our community,” he said, noting that the community has moved to high-speed Internet over Telus PureFibre.
This contrasts sharply with other rural areas of the province. Over 200,000 rural households do not have access to high-speed Internet, including 80% of Aboriginal households and 67% of all rural households in the province.
Internet speed lags by up to 65 percent of pan-Canadian rates.
One area that fits this category is the MD of Pincher Creek.
Warden Rick Lemire said internet rates vary by region, but overall tend to be slow and the Gladstone area has a particularly poor connection.
Rural Alberta municipalities have championed the interests of area residents and set up a site where residents can test their Internet connection: https://bit.ly/3IZNdIJ. Lemire said his own rates were slow when he tested them.
Communities in need could see a better internet by 2024, but Glubish said it will likely take longer due to disruptions in the supply chain for fiber-optic materials.
Meanwhile, the federal and provincial governments will focus on reviewing project applications for the Universal Broadband Fund, prioritizing those that provide the best value for the taxpayer’s money and have maximum impact.
Projects will begin to be announced early next year and construction will begin shortly thereafter.
Glubish said this is a necessary step for Albertans that will help improve the health, tourism and education sectors in the province, as well as grow the economy by attracting investments, expanding markets and encouraging more people to move to rural areas.
Lemire said he looked forward to the changes this funding could bring, adding that a better internet is essential for maintaining the quality of rural education during the pandemic and for making businesses work, as learning and work are often virtual.
“It would be great if we could get it to at least be comfortable,” he said.