/County to apply for broadband funding

County to apply for broadband funding

By Chad Ingram
County will apply for provincial funding for a project that would bring
internet downloading/uploading speeds of 50 mbps/10 mbps to the area.
staff report from chief administrative officer Mike Rutter received by
councillors during a July 22 meeting explained that the provincial
government is offering $150 million in grants through the Ministry of
Infrastructure for broadband projects, and that applications must be
done in partnership with telecom service providers.
“The federal
government has also indicated that they will be announcing a grant
program in the near future,” the report reads. “We do not know if the
provincial and federal programs will complement one another, or if one
applicant could apply for funding from both.”
The provincial program
would pay for 25 per cent of a project, and it’s estimated a project to
outfit Haliburton County with 50 mpbs/10 mpbs speeds would cost $55
million. That means provincial funding would cover $13.75 million, and
federal funding, if available, the same amount, leaving an estimated
$27.5 million to the county and a partner telecom company. The staff
report also laid out a tentative plan for borrowing over the period of
decade to cover those costs.
The localized project would be separate from the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s cell gap project.
have been approached by two telecom service providers already, and it’s
possible that they would have some very interesting projects for our
review,” Rutter told councillors. His report also recommended the
sole-sourced hiring of a consultant to conduct a technical evaluation of
proposals and complete the application, with the deadline fast
approaching near the end of August.
Councillors were unanimously
supportive of moving ahead with the grant application, and with the
sole-source procurement of a consultant.
“As we already know, that
everybody [dealing] with COVID [protocols] has become extremely aware of
connectivity needs, so the rush for consultants or people to help in
the process, the longer we wait, the shallower pond we’re going to be
fishing in,” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin.