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County green-lights broadband pilot

Should be online by late 2022
1212 CountyBriefs01 broadband sup
DIAL UP NO MORE — Sturgeon County council authorized its chief administrative officer to sign a contract Sept. 14 to implement Phase One of its broadband improvement initiative. The project should bring faster Internet speeds to the region outlined in purple here by the end of 2022. STURGEON COUNTY/Photo

Sturgeon County council has signed off on a potentially $7.3-million deal that should bring faster Internet to Villeneuve by the end of next year. 

County council authorized county commissioner Reegan McCullough to execute Phase One of the county’s broadband initiative during its Sept. 14 meeting once he concluded contract talks for it. 

Council launched a project to improve broadband access in the county last year after a survey found that most residents were dissatisfied with their Internet service and wanted the county to invest as needed to improve it. Council borrowed $7.3 million to fund the first phase of the project in April. 

County corporate services director Jesse Sopko said administration expected to sign a contract with a company to implement the broadband project later this month. Phase One would construct a fibre-optic network that would improve Internet speeds around Villeneuve, Calahoo, and Rivière Qui Barre. Construction would start next spring and finish by the end of 2022. 

Sopko said Phase Two, which has yet to be funded, would cover the rest of the county, and could be completed by 2024. In the meantime, administration will continue to lobby the federal and provincial governments for broadband cash, including from the $150 million the province committed to rural broadband last July

Coun. Wayne Bokenfohr, who has pushed for broadband improvements in Sturgeon for many years, said he was thrilled to reach this point, adding that the county’s emergency services will also benefit from faster Internet access. 

Broadband is the transportation network of the modern world, and we can’t overstate its importance, especially given the need for virtual connection in the last year, Coun. Kristin Toms said. 

Visit for details on the broadband project. 

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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