Feds promise money to speed up rural internet

·2 min read

Uxbridge internet users, don’t despair - you won’t be left with online connection that makes dial-up look good. Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell recently announced the enhanced and expanded Universal Broadband Fund, a program aimed to provide reliable internet connectivity to all residents.

“During the COVID crisis, we are seeing now more than ever the importance of adequate and reliable internet connectivity,” says O’Connell. “Here in our area, we are so close to the urban centre that we are often forgotten or not seen as a critical zone to improve.” The original UBF was designed as a $1 billion program but has now been upgraded to $1.75 billion, with the recognition of the importance to act quickly in connecting all Canadians.

The program will also include a Rapid Response Stream with an accelerated application process, as well as $150 million for shovel ready projects that can be started within the next 12 months. O’Connell says she is hopeful that Uxbridge will see some projects in this rapid stream.

During the November 16 council meeting, Mayor Dave Barton reported that the township does indeed have shovel ready projects with “applications to be submitted very soon.”

“We needed a program that would be flexible and diverse - parts of our community have great service, while others have next to nothing,” says O’Connell, who also mentions that another goal of this program is to introduce new technologies and competition in the hopes of lowering service rates.

Barton, is looking forward to Uxbridge receiving the benefits of this program.

“Lots of our local areas have sub-par service and I know the importance of good connectivity, especially as we’re now all working and learning from home.”

Colleen Baskin, communications officer for the township, notes the economical benefits better service can bring to our town.

“It is easier to attract more businesses here if there is good internet, but at the end of the day, it is the service providers who need to be willing to invest in the community by building infrastructure,” she says.

For more information about the Universal Broadband Fund visit https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/h_00006.html

Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos