News

Region working to expand rural high-speed Internet

By Bill Sawchuk, St. Catharines Standard

Postmedia Network photo illustration

Postmedia Network photo illustration

Regional council is chasing up to $6.6 million in federal funding to improve access to high-speed Internet in rural Niagara.

A federal program, that will invest up to $500 million to bring broadband Internet to 300 rural and remote communities across Canada, has identified 33 eligible locations in Niagara as potential candidates for funding.

“Improving access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet in rural Niagara is one of council’s strategic priorities,” Regional Chair Alan Caslin said. “Leveraging funding through the Connect to Innovate program will allow us to make a direct investment in concrete, Niagara-specific infrastructure projects in the next five years.”

Ottawa is expected to make its decisions on which areas will benefit from the Connect to Innovate program in late 2017.‚Äč

The Region’s application, which was approved by council last week, could result in up to $10 million of direct infrastructure investment in Niagara by 2022, divided between the federal government, Niagara Region and the Niagara Region Broadband Network.

This funding complements federal and provincial investments in rural broadband Internet access through the South Western Internet Fibre Technology project, of which Niagara Region is a partner.

Niagara has made a $1-million commitment to the $14.7-million fibre technology project. That sum includes federal and provincial as well as private funding.

bsawchuk@postmedia.com