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Halton Mayors, Chair Support Access to Universal Broadband Internet Service

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash.
Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash.

Last week, I joined my fellow Halton mayors and the Regional chair in a signing a letter of support for Halton Region’s expression of interest as a host community for the CENGN Rural Ontario Broadband Project.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us firsthand how important universal access to Internet is, particularly in keeping all of our residents informed, safe and healthy.

The letter, signed by Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and me, as Burlington’s Mayor, Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette, Milton Mayor Gord Krantz, and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, is an Expression of Interest submission to participate as a host community in CENGN’s Rural Ontario Broadband Project.

The project is looking to fund innovative projects across Rural Ontario that demonstrate technology solutions that offer flexible, lower cost, higher performance residential broadband access for Rural Ontario communities. Please click the link above for more details.

All of Halton’s municipalities have lobbied the federal and provincial governments to ensure basic Internet is a fundamental and essential service accessible to all residents — both in our rural and urban areas.

I want to thank Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan, who also sits on the Board of Directors, Ontario Caucus for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith for their work on advocating for universal broadband Internet access for our rural communities in Burlington.

Today, the provincial government announced it is investing $150 million in reliable broadband and cellular service. This funding will help create even more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province. This is part of the province’s $315 million initiative called Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. – Media Release.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Hon. Steve Clark also recently added his name to the list of municipalities asking for immediate federal action on rural broadband. Click this link to read his statement: 234-2020-2264 MG Broadband MP Letter ENG (French version: 234-2020-2264 MG Broadband MP Letter FR).

I appreciate Min. Clark adding his voice to this critical infrastructure — it is important now more than ever during COVID-19 restrictions to provide our rural residents the ability to stay connected.

A link to the Mayors/Chair letter is at the top of this post, and it’s also available below:

Office of the Regional Chair

Halton Region

1151 Bronte Road Oakville ON L6M 3L1

May 28, 2020

Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks

555 Legget Dive

Ottawa, ON

K2K 2X3

RE: Letter of support for Halton Region’s EOI for the CENGN Rural Ontario Broadband Project

Dear Mr. Koster,

As the Regional Chair for Halton Region and Mayors of Halton’s Local Municipalities – the City of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton and Town of Oakville, we would like to take this opportunity to express our support for Halton’s Expression of Interest submission to participate as a host community in CENGN’s Rural Ontario Broadband Project.

The Halton Municipalities strongly support access to universal broadband services in order to ensure that all residents throughout Halton can access internet connectivity. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the gaps in rural broadband internet services in parts of Halton, particularly with the increased demand for access to on-line learning, mental health resources, family and government support services and working from home capabilities.

In 2018, Halton Region worked with the University of Guelph’s Regional and Rural Broadband project to complete a Rural Broadband Study as outlined in Regional report CA-04-18. The results of the study included the development of a comprehensive database of rural government, business and resident broadband availability which clearly identified significant service gaps in west Burlington, north-west Milton and south Halton Hills.

For the past few years, the Region has continued to advocate to the Provincial and Federal Governments to support enhanced access to broadband internet for residents and businesses across Halton. Despite these efforts, enhancing access to broadband services continues to be a priority issue for Halton as outlined in the Region’s 2019-2022 Strategic Business Plan.

Through participation as a host community in the Rural Ontario Residential Broadband Project, CENGN as well as telecommunication service providers will provide Halton with a critical opportunity to enhance access to broadband internet services for residents, businesses and community institutions who need this connection now more than ever.

Thank you for your consideration of Halton Region as a host municipality, we look forward to hearing from you and working with our community partners on this important initiative.

Sincerely,

Gary Carr, Halton Regional Chair

Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor, City of Burlington

Rick Bonnette, Mayor, Town of Halton Hills

Gord Krantz, Mayor, Town of Milton

Rob Burton, Mayor, Town of Oakville

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3 thoughts on “Halton Mayors, Chair Support Access to Universal Broadband Internet Service”

  1. Pamela Tresadern

    If this is implemented it should be optional to residents of care homes because some residents may not have the capability or understanding of computers.

    1. I absolutely agree! Not all residents in long-term care are computer savvy. However, for those who are, Internet access becomes a vital service to keep them connected with family and friends. Also, we are seeing an increasing number of long-term care residents for whom access to technology is a vital communication tool. They should not be facing financial or other barriers that prevent them connecting with the broader world outside of the home

  2. In addition to limited access to broadband from rural areas, I would draw your attention to the fact that for many residents in long term care homes, Internet access is not affordable
    in particular, many homes do not provide Wi-Fi access and establishing a monthly account with an ISP may be $50 or more per month
    I would suggest that this would be an excellent initiative to ensure that all residents of long-term care homes have affordable access to Internet services

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