Broadband funding given thumbs up

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Local municipal leaders are applauding more federal support for developing rural communications capacity. Funding of $100 million over five years for rural broadband was announced in the Feb. 27 budget.

Improving broadband is a major regional project for the Town of High Prairie and County of Big Lakes.

“Any funding available for this project would reduce the costs to our residents,” says High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk. He adds that rural broadband will benefit town and county residents and businesses.

Speaking of the county, it is committed to broadband development.

“Broadband is very important,” says reeve Ken Matthews, noting however that the county has received no response on its funding application. “I strongly believe that we would have more year-round residents in our region if we had broadband.”

Matthews says as the use of electronic communication increases, having high broadband capacity is vital to make communities more sustainable.

In other news from the federal budget, Panasiuk says the Canada Summer Jobs program will help local youth get summer jobs.

“Hopefully the increased funding will lead to more opportunities for our businesses to hire youth for the summer, he says.

The town expects to also receive indirect benefit from funding announced for women, indigenous communities and the tax benefit for low-income earners.

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