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Over $22 million committed for local internet expansion

DAN CEARNS The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: The provincial and federal governments are partnering with the Region of Durham and local municipalities to help expand internet access to rural locations.

On Wednesday, July 26th, a press conference was held in Uxbridge council chambers to announce over $22 million in funding from the province and federal government going to the Region of Durham to expand internet service to 10 communities. These communities include Ashburn, Columbus, Courtice, Greenbank, Leaskdale, Manchester, Myrtle Station, Raglan, Sunderland and Uxbridge.

"High-speed Internet access is essential to the success of everyone, especially those living and working in rural communities in Ontario and around the country. The project announced today will help improve access to health care and online learning services, create jobs in these communities, and keep people connected to their family, friends and loved ones. Our government is committed to making investments like these to help connect every Ontarian and Canadian to the high-speed internet they need to succeed," Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O'Connell said, in a statement.

The Region of Durham has recently set up a municipal services corporation titled Durham OneNet Inc. and has partnered with internet company Vianet to provide this service.

"The project will be constructed in phases, with the final phase expected to be completed by December 2025," a Durham Region press release explained.

The funding is coming from what is known as the 'Universal Broadband Fund,' which totals $3.225 billion for projects across the country.

"I am pleased with the continued commitment to broadband infrastructure investment in Durham Region from our provincial and federal partners. Access to high-speed and affordable Internet in Durham's rural communities is essential for businesses to operate and [for] residents to thrive. The Region is also proud to be a contributing partner with the provincial and federal governments to fund further development and delivery of broadband infrastructure in Durham through the Region's municipal services corporation, Durham OneNet Inc., and Internet service provider partner Vianet. This is another step forward in our journey to getting up to speed with some of the best-connected communities in the world," Durham Regional Chair John Henry said, in a statement.

Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton told The Standard he feels this investment will inspire more internet companies to take an interest in rural areas.

"As soon as we announced Durham OneNet running the fibre trunk from Pickering to Uxbridge, which was the first phase of this [project], all of the large internet service providers also stepped up and put duplicate coverage in. So, this type of investment also shows the industry they need to step up their game and continue to invest in Uxbridge."

Scugog Mayor Wilma Wotten applauded the investment into Greenbank and Manchester.

"Any news about [the] expansion of [the] internet to our communities is fabulous news. In my opinion, [it] cannot come soon enough. It's no longer described as something we would like; it's now become a necessity."

The Government of Canada aims to have 98 percent of Canadians have access to high-speed internet by 2026 and connect the whole country by 2030. The Ontario provincial government aims to have every community in Ontario connected by the end of 2025.

"Today's announcement brings us one step closer to a fully connected Canada. Together with the Government of Ontario, we're connecting over 1,400 homes in 10 communities in the province, including Whitby. By investing in connectivity, we're empowering residents with better access to essential services, education and business opportunities," Whitby MP Ryan Turnbull stated.

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