NORTH DUNDAS and NORTH STORMONT — Nearly 4,500 homes in Marionville, Berwick and Crysler are supposed to see the arrival fibre-optic internet in their neighbourhoods as the federal and provincial governments spend a combined sum of more than $362-million connecting over 90,000 rural Eastern Ontario households with modern broadband.
Located south of Ottawa, the Marionville, Berwick and Crysler initiative alone is expected to consume up to $32.1-million of those joint taxpayer dollars from Toronto and Ottawa, as announced Aug. 9.
Ontario is teaming up with its federal counterpart as the Ford government aims to deliver high-speed internet access “to all corners of the province” by 2025.
“Our latest investment to make high-speed internet accessible to more homes and businesses will make a positive difference in the lives of countless families and individuals in Eastern Ontario,” declared Ontario’s Infrastructure minister, Kinga Surma, about the announcement involving the three communities found in the townships of North Dundas and North Stormont (as well as Russell and Ottawa in the case of boundary-straddling Marionville.)
“By working together with our federal partners, we’ve achieved another important milestone in building a stronger, more connected, Ontario.”
The news followed last month’s similar announcement of a project that aims to connect 5,254 homes in the Grenville County communities of Athens and Mallorytown. Maxville and the Akwesasne Reserve were also lumped into that list. “There’s more to be done, and the good news for our riding is that we’re continuing to accelerate these projects,” Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark — Leeds-Grenville MPP — said on that July 26 occasion.
The province has launched a procurement process to get the work started on its ambitious Eastern Ontario and broader provincial goals, though it’s not immediately clear when shovels might hit the ground. Money for the fibre installation will flow through the provincial Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program and the federal Universal Broadband Fund (UBF). When asked about the selection of firms to handle the build, an Infrastructure ministry spokesperson replied by email that further information will be released “over the coming weeks.”
Canada-wide, more than 890,000 rural and remote households are on track to be connected to high-speed internet as a result of federal spending, according to the Trudeau government, which has committed $7.2 billion to broadband. By the end of this year, over 435,000 households will be connected as a result of federal expenditures, including through Ottawa’s Universal Broadband Fund.
Money from Ottawa accounts for 40 percent Ontario’s goal of connecting every household in the province with high-speed internet within four years, while the Ford government itself is pumping $4 billion into the initiative.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that internet access is essential for our communities and for our sustainable economic recovery,” noted Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP François Drouin, whose federal riding covers part of Marionville.
“I know from experience from living in a rural area the disadvantages facing residents trying to access a wide array of online programs and services, and business operators who need to stay connected to customers and suppliers,” observed Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell, whose provincial riding also contains Marionville, as well as Berwick and Crysler. “Higher speeds will have huge positive impacts on rural quality of life and provide businesses many more opportunities to grow.”