Morinville and Sturgeon County partner for broadband project

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Above: Tyler Westover and Schaun Goodeve speak at Chamber about broadband. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy

Schaun Goodeve, Interim Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Town of Morinville and Tyler Westover, Manager of Sturgeon County’s Economic Development department made an announcement at the Chamber luncheon Wednesday on a joint partnership on broadband services and requirements.

Goodeve said the County and the town were successful in their application for the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program. Their Broadband Analysis project is a study to determine the infrastructure and service capabilities that a broadband network would need to support business retention, expansion and attraction efforts.

Goodeve said they have been working on the Internet connectivity project for some time. The landscape of broadband is shifting quite rapidly in terms of connectivity whether it is at the door to microwave and wireless as it were, to low level satellites and looking at new connectivity in the new market.

“In the sense of how that market is shifting and evolving we have come to realize that looking at the singular in the context of the town of Morinville it doesn’t suffice,” Goodeve said. “We need to look to expand it and look how we can partner up with the County and looking at it in terms of connections and corridors, pedestals and how that integrates it into a bigger picture with the county and also with the town.” Goodeve went on to say that they are able to leverage with the dollars they received from CARES and look forward to work on this project together.
“The really big reason we are here today is, we will definitely talk about the large scope here in a second, but we want to engage the business community,” Westover said. [It’s really important for use, both with the town and County as well, to really have a solid understanding of what the pinch points are for businesses here in the area as well as what their needs will be in the future.”

Westover said that many companies, whether they use the club platforms, or use the Internet for some of their training and cases and remoting in and out, require download speed. “We are engaging with our consultants to look at really what is that baseline service that we see within this region here primarily for businesses,” he said. “Unfortunately, it will not be every business that we will have a chance to get out to. But we want to engage crowds like this to see how we can meaningfully interact and understand where that baseline is, and understand what the options are for the future and what your needs may be in the future.”

Westover went on to say they are looking at Wi-Fi, low-level satellite, where back-ups are, where lines truly are, where dark fibre is and how to augment the system in the future and what those models should look like.

“We are not coming to this with any viewpoints saying municipalities should move forward with millions of dollars as in some cases you may have seen in Alberta, but really what are our partners and how our partners can augment the system, whether it is a big Telsco that is here in Canada or increase some of the services, should we be chatting with the provincial and federal governments should we be looking at other models that out there as well,” Westover said.

Westover said the two municipalities want to leverage any future granting that Canada is going to have and that the project is coming out at a right time. The two municipalities will be looking to conduct in-person interviews with IBI Group consultants as well as looking at online surveys. They hope to have that information through the Chamber for businesses as well as organizations.

Multiple locations are being considered for town hall-type forums within the county and town. From there they will take some steps and identify different models that are out there.

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