In 2018 the Government established the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust with a commitment of $193 million to help improve internet access to underserviced and unserved areas of the province. We recognized that reliable internet service is important and allows Nova Scotians to live where they choose and stay connected.
Develop Nova Scotia was given the responsibility to oversee this project and called for proposals to be submitted for review and approval. Connectivity in the province helps to support business startup and growth. It is critical for Tourism and most importantly it improves the quality of life in our rural communities. A better connected Nova Scotia is criteria to our expanding economy.
On February 7th the first round of Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative projects was announced and I was delighted to see that one of those five contracts included the Municipalities of Cumberland and Colchester. They will partner with Xplornet as the service provider. This is great progress. Multiple communities and individuals will be captured in this project and the solution in our County will include a mix of wired and fixed wireless services. I understand the limitations for small business owners in rural Colchester County and this improved access to reliable high speed internet service can be a game changer for them. It is anticipated that work will start in some communities early this year.
Currently about 70% of homes and businesses have access to high speed internet. This recent announcement will bring us close to 90% of homes and businesses. In addition to the five projects that were announced on Friday, a request for proposals is now going out and we are expecting another round of projects to be announced this summer.
I want to congratulate both Cumberland and Colchester Municipalities and in particular, Councillors Joe vanVulpen, Mike Gregory and Tom Taggart who worked with Council staff to prepare the successful application. I am excited to be part of the Government that is providing the support needed for the Municipalities and Xplornet to be successful in the competitive procurement process.
Karen Casey, MLA