DUNROBIN – West Carleton and a chunk of Renfrew County will be the beneficiaries of a multi-level government announcement promising $13 million to bring high-speed Internet service to 6,400 homes in rural eastern Ontario.
Politicians from all three levels of government covering the Kanata-Carleton riding, Ward 5 and McNab-Braeside Township in Renfrew County, along with several Bell representatives filled the Dunrobin Community Centre today (March 13) for the announcement that will bring Bell fibre Internet service to the rural community over the next two years.
“All Canadians need reliable and affordable high-speed Internet, no matter where they live,” the office of the Minister of Rural Economic Development released in a statement today (March 13). “The governments of Canada and Ontario are taking action to bring high-speed Internet access to unserved and underserved communities.”
Jenna Sudds, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and Member of Parliament for Kanata-Carleton, on behalf of the Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings, together with Merrilee Fullerton, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kanata-Carleton, announced more than $13 million in federal and provincial funding for Bell Canada to bring high-speed Internet access to more than 6,400 homes in the communities of Carp, Constance Bay, Dunrobin, Fitzroy Harbour, Kinburn, Marathon Village as well as Arnprior, Braeside, Burnstown, Glasgow Station and White Lake in Renfrew County.
“I think we all know in this day and age, Internet service is not a luxury, but frankly a necessity,” Sudds told said at the announcement. “Throughout the pandemic I heard firsthand from so many individuals and families how important it was to have access to high-speed Internet. Not just for Netflix and streaming entertainment, it’s also about being able to fully participate in the economy. It was about ensuring our kids could connect to schooling throughout the pandemic and it continues to this day. It’s essential in this day and age we have access to reliable Internet. It’s essential to our small businesses so they can sell their products and grow their business. Over the course of the next two years, you can expect to see this project underway. I know this announcement.
The projects being announced today are part of an existing partnership between Ontario and Canada. On July 29, 2021, the governments announced a Canada–Ontario broadband partnership to support large-scale, fibre-based projects that will provide high-speed Internet access to more than 280,000 homes across the province. This historic agreement was made possible by a joint federal-provincial investment totaling more than $1.2 billion.
While the City of Ottawa is not part of the funding formula Kelly, as a Crown Point resident with an office near Kinburn, knows first hand the struggles of rural residents and their ability to access the Internet.
“In the rural part of this riding Internet service is often spotty,” he said. “I have first-hand experience that comes with the challenge of accessing quality Internet at an affordable price in rural communities. I’m very pleased to be here today to share with the people of Ontario in this announcement. We all know access to reliable Internet is essential in the digital world, and I know all levels of government are working hard to get Canadians access to the Internet. Today’s announcement is another step towards that goal.”
Today’s announcement builds on the Government of Canada’s progress toward ensuring 98 per cent of Canadians have access to high-speed Internet by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.
The announcement also brings the Government of Ontario closer to achieving its goal of bringing reliable high-speed Internet access to every community by the end of 2025.
“We have set an ambitious goal to achieve this by the end of 2025, and have already made considerable progress, so we’re very grateful to all the partners we have to get this accomplished,” Fullerton said.
Bell Canada will be the Internet service provider responsible for building the infrastructure for this funding announcement.
Bell FTTH Delivery manager Pat Barry says the infrastructure in West Carleton will be strictly fibre, but that comes with its own challenges.
“There are a lot of different factors, especially in this area,” he told West Carleton Online. “There is a lot of sand, ground conditions are challenging and there is rock. There are so many variables in construction, it will be a case-by-case basis. So, we’ll have to figure that out as we go.”
“This is a difficult project to move forward, but it is because of the support of both of our governments and partnering with Bell that we are able to move forward, and I think that’s an important point to make,” Sudds added. “We haven’t had this service in our rural communities for a long time, where as the rest of, if you look at Kanata and the other suburban areas, have had the access.”
Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims to provide all Canadians with access to Internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload.
As of February 2023, Ontario has finalized agreements totaling more than $2.2 billion for nearly 200 high-speed Internet and cellular projects across the province.
In 2021, Ontario passed the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to help speed up construction of high-speed Internet projects. To build upon this legislation, the Ontario government passed the Getting Ontario Connected Act, 2022, which further reduces barriers, duplication and delays.