Rocky View County council is starting to zero in on the challenging issue of providing high-speed internet to some of its remote and smaller communities, including Bragg Creek and Springbank.
This fall, the council is holding a workshop in an attempt to set a policy to clearly define a process by which local communities could pursue the finance, construction, and operation of high-speed internet connectivity through a community-led initiative.
The council has been struggling with exactly what is the most effective and practical way to improve connectivity within the county. It is not necessarily required or wanted in some areas of the county. Several motions went to the wayside before it was agreed to sit down and hammer out a direction.
At its June 23 meeting, a motion by Div. 2 councillor Kim McKylor provided some additional focus to the workshop.
RVC administration has been directed to prepare a draft policy for discussion during the session that will also bring councillors up-to-speed on the realities of securing high-speed internet in low-density populations.
"One of the things that we've been talking about probably since the day we were elected is the mechanisms surrounding high-speed internet," said Councillor McKylor.
"I think we need to put some control in residents' hands. There are communities out there today that are willing--and I've received a ton of email regarding this--to move forward with a plan."
Some communities have indicated they are willing to do leg work and cover costs through local improvement tax, she says.
"Whether or not they carry that through once they actually see the true cost of it, I don't know, but they want those options. The infrastructure is the barrier to entry."
High-speed internet servicing is generally driven by market conditions. Because of that, higher density populations provide the economy of scale to expedite the installation of the necessary infrastructure.
Earlier this year. a proposed Rocky View wide study, brought forward by the Bragg Creek Connect, was unsuccessful in obtaining a CARES grant. Without this funding, the council opted to mothball the project.
Div. 1 councillor Mark Kamachi said this initiative wasn't strictly about the needs expressed in Bragg Creek but was designed to pinpoint where it was most feasible to establish high-speed connectivity in the entire county.
Access to high-speed internet was a common concern expressed to many RVC councillors during the last municipal election campaign.