The Town of Bird Cove is nestled on it’s own small peninsula with beautiful water front property appeal. Although it is an aging community, like many on the Great Northern Peninsula – it is vibrant! The community has a Going Healthy Program and active Community Centre with programs and activities that appeal to all ages and interest groups. They host a soup kitchen, exercise classes, dances, movie nights and have a community library. This is the social commons of a community that has existed for the past 50 centuries that date back to the Maritime Archaic Indians.
However, The Town of Bird Cove is one that is “Lost in Time” and not because of lack of vision from the Town, but the failure of Government to ensure that all citizens in Rural Canada receive equal access to high-speed Internet. The Town of Bird Cove is one of the many communities on the Great Northern Peninsula that will not be receiving high-speed Internet under the Provincial Government’s recent RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative) to subsidize companies to invest necessary infrastructure in rural regions and provide high-speed service. The Great Northern Peninsula had 10 communities slated to receive Broadband Internet. Neighbouring communities of St. Barbe, Blue Cove, Plum Point, Brig Bay and others will receive this access when Bird Cove, the only neighbouring Municipality is blatantly being disadvantaged. They have an Interpretation Centre, active community centre, school children and others that would seek on-line education. This must be an oversight as the community of Brig Bay is less than 2 kms away? Will this mean that the Town of Brig Bay will be years before they gain access? We have seen this happen in the District of the Straits-White Bay North where communities such as Eddies Cove East, Pine’s Cove, Bide-Arm, Wild Bight, North Boat Harbour and others have no access to high-speed Internet when neighbouring communities received access.
The investment by Government is a step forward, however, the access to high-speed Internet is still not a rosy picture for the region. This increase will bring broadband internet coverage to 44 of the 70 communities living on the Great Northern Peninsula. There are other regions in the province facing similar challenges of access to high-speed Internet. The Provincial Government must continue to invest in the RBI to provide this essential service to its citizens, travellers, commuters and potential developers in these regions. It will build strong economies as we strive to enter a more knowledge-based economy in rural NL.
The province says the percentage of residents with broadband access has increased to approximately 85 per cent, up from 60 per cent when the Progressive Conservatives took power in 2003. If we look a littler closer at these figures we will see:
Red Ochre Regional Board released the following figures in it’s annual 2011 report as they represent Economic Zone 7 (36 communities) a distance from Trout River to St. Barbe and a population in 2010 of 8,968. Prior to the announcement only 10 of the 36 communities had high-speed internet service. This will now increase to 19/36. Prior to the announcement only 57.89% of the Zone’s population had access to high-speed. This region for the past 8 years has been under-serviced and are well under the number of 85% the Provincial Government has been touting. It is time to bridge the gap of access to Broadband Internet, as it is no longer a luxury but essential to daily tasks.
Economic Zone 6, which represents the Straits-White Bay North District will have 11 of the 35 communities without complete access to high-speed internet. We must continue to bridge these infrastructure gaps and provide this service to under-serviced communities. Or else we will be forever lost in time.
Please write the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development to voice your concerns:
Minister’s OfficeMinister Hon. Keith Hutchings Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development Confederation Building, West Block, Second Floor P.O. Box 8700 St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6 Tel: (709) 729-4728 Fax: (709) 729-0654 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We simply can not remain quiet on this matter, as we must be outspoken on this issue and remind Government to advance our province and develop our knowledge-based economies!Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North