County prepares to market broadband

MD of LSR listed as a project partner

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

A campaign by Big Lakes County to promote the regional broadband project will soon be launched. The idea is to gain support for connecting residents and businesses.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, council endorsed an application to seek provincial funding for the program.

“This will be good to promote the benefits of the broadband project to get people connected to reliable service,” said reeve Richard Simard.

Following a recommendation by acting CAO Jordan Panasiuk, council consented to contribute up to $18,750 for the promotion project in the 2019 budget.

The Town of High Prairie has agreed to submit the application for $75,000 with 50 per cent from the province and 25 per cent each from the town and county.

Panasiuk said the campaign is the missing link in the project.

“If we go ahead, it will be critical that people are aware of this project and the benefits it will provide,” he said in a report to council. “By investing in marketing and community awareness, we will get a better sign-up rate, which will provide more revenue to the county.”

Workshops are being planned, to reach as many stakeholder groups as possible, including residents, elected officials, local businesses, service groups, service providers, regional partners and other local partners, such as chambers of commerce, school divisions and Indigenous communities.

Magna Engineering Services principal Jennifer Massig has been contracted to facilitate the community engagement campaign.

The county hopes construction on the broadband project will begin in September of 2019. Besides Big Lakes and High Prairie, project partners include the Town of Swan Hills, Gift Lake Metis Settlement, East Prairie Metis Settlement, Peavine Metis Settlement, the M.D. of Smoky River, the Town of Falher, the Town of McLennan, the Village of Donnelly, the Village of Girouxville and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

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