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Wellesley backs company’s bid for funding to expand high-speed internet

Looking to expand internet services in Wellesley Township, Mornington Communications now has the backing of council in a bid to acquire support from the federal  Universal Broadband Fund (UBF).

Meeting Tuesday night, councillors unanimously approved sending a letter of endorsement for Mornington as the company applies for funding to help bring  high-speed internet to all remaining rural properties in the township.

The money would come from the $1.75 billion UBF recently announced by the government of Canada, which aims to have all Canadians connected to the internet before the end of the decade.

Alongside their support for Mornington Wellesley has agreed to put forward $50,000 towards the project if the company’s application is successful.

During the meeting, Coun. Peter van der Maas asked whether the $50,000 pledged by the township was necessary to get the process moving forward.

Chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie said the township money isn’t necessary, but municipalities that share expenses would be looked upon favourably and would carry extra weight when Ottawa reviews the application. He also said he spoke with Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis, who couldn’t be specific about what level of contribution could make a difference in the process.

For his part, Louis said he is excited Mornington Communications has stepped up to move Wellesley towards complete broadband coverage.

“I’m pretty excited [at] the opportunity that Mornington is stepping up and wants to make such a big impact in Wellesley. It’s a great news story – they’re already doing some good work there and they want to just continue it. And that’s one of the more remote regions of the riding [of Kitchener-Conestoga] so I’m really happy to hear about that,” said Louis in an interview.

Coun. Carl Smit inquired during the meeting as to whether Heidelberg and St. Clements would be getting increased broadband service as part of the expansion.

Louwagie said there was no indication either way as to whether they would be included. After Mayor Joe Nowak asked whether there is any fibre optic internet anywhere in those villages, Louwagie said they do not, but the internet they have is considered high speed and meets the minimum standards for the federal government.

“They do have what is considered high speed internet through the government’s programs. High speed simply means that you have availability of 50 download and 10 upload megabits per second. Both St. Clements and Heidelberg have that available through Rogers, that is through copper lines. So, you don’t have the same capacity and availability as what fibre would do, but it does meet the minimum requirements of the federal government,” said Louwagie.

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