Rocky View County (RVC) councillors will be taking a closer look at a framework that may help some of its rural communities establish high-speed internet connectivity at a Sept. 30 workshop.
At it's June 23 meeting, council approved a motion directing RVC administration to develop a policy, which would 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 to be discussed at the workshop. Workshops are designed to be an educational session and provide background that could come into play at a future council meeting.
High-speed internet connectivity is a challenging issue for rural and lower population density areas of Rocky View County (RVC), and it's become especially apparent because of the additional demands posed by COVID-19.
Exactly what role the county can play in improving connectivity is something RVC council has been wrestling with for some time. Several motions have gone wayside in an attempt to clearly define a process.
Springbank (Div. 2) councillor Kim McKylor is among those councillors who has been attempting to find realistic ways to help entrench the necessary infrastructure.
She says it would a perfect world if the county could afford to put fibre everywhere, but that's not realistic. Additionally, rural communities would not survive the private sector model when the numbers are crunched.
"We could figure out a strategy until the cows come home, but really we know the gap," says Councillor McKylor. "The gap is it costs money to put fibre in the ground."
She believes giving a joint solution involving rural communities, the county and providers is possible by incorporating the use of local improvement taxes for those residents willing to do the footwork.
"It won't work everywhere but it will work for those communites--and primarily in Springbank and Bearspaw --that live within metres sometimes or close enough to the city where there is some infrastructure, and they're willing to pay for it."
"I think we can collaborate together, and people can get what they want. I think if I can get one community onboard it becomes the model for rural communities."
McKylor said it was the number one issue when she door-knocked during 2017 election.
"I can't remember how many times it came up. People asked about rural interrnet. It was the biggest issue."
At this time, there's no timeline on when or if it will be discussed at a regular council meeting.