Kneehill County council has had ongoing discussions about the challenges rural residents face accessing reliable, high-speed internet and, during the regular Tuesday, August 16 council meeting, they voted to support a letter from the County of Paintearth to the provincial government to lobby for ongoing funding support for rural broadband development in Alberta.
The federal government announced some $2.75 billion in funding through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) to support development of rural and remote broadband projects in November 2020; however, the funding was only available on shovel-ready projects, which left some municipalities unable to apply for funding prior to the application deadline of March 2021.
“A number of municipalities have put their name forward to help support this (letter),” Kneehill County Reeve Jerry Wittstock said during the meeting. “I think it’s important the province understands you can’t have a shovel-ready project if you don’t understand, or don’t have the capacity to get there.”
The Mail previously reported Kneehill County approved a contribution of $2,000 towards the Kneehill Regional Partnership (KRP) regional broadband study in April 2022; the study was to be broken down into three phases, with the first to capture the needs and desired outcomes of residents within the KRP-the towns of Three Hills and Trochu, villages of Carbon, Acme, and Linden, and Kneehill County.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen explained there have been some staffing challenges since then and, at this time, the project has stalled.
However, it was noted, once these challenges have been resolved, having a “pool of funding available” would allow the project to move from a study to reality.
Council unanimously voted to support the letter from the County of Paintearth.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail