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Connecting Residents and Businesses to the Digital Economy in Lambton County

Press Release

Faster, reliable internet will create jobs and opportunities in rural and remote Ontario

August 14, 2020

(Watford, ON) – Ontario is delivering on its commitment to create even more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province through an improved, modern broadband network in Southwestern Ontario. The province announced that Brooke Telecom has been contracted to bring reliable internet to Lambton County.

Parliamentary Assistant Randy Pettapiece, on behalf of Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, along with Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia-Lambton were in Watford, Ontario today to make the announcement.

The contract, awarded by Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT), is the latest step in the expansion of broadband internet access in Southwestern Ontario.

Brooke Telecom will implement a fibre-to-the-home project, consisting of 149.5 kilometres of fibre to service 536 premises, just east of Petrolia. The project will invest $5.8 million in broadband infrastructure, including funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments. Construction on the infrastructure is expected to begin in April 2021, with completion by December 2022.

PA Pettapiece and MPP McNaughton also visited Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to announce that internet service provider, Execulink, has begun construction. This jointly-funded project totaling $2.7 million will see 35 kilometres of fibre optic cable installed and will bring broadband service to the First Nation community. Construction is expected to be completed by December 2020. Combined, these two projects are worth up to $8.5 million and will result in 185 kilometres of fibre optic cable being laid, giving broadband access to more than 1,500 homes and businesses in Lambton County.

“In our first mandate, we invested to connect nearly 400,000 households by 2023 through the Connect to Innovate program; more ambitious than any other government,” said the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “Work is underway every day and in the next 18 months, we will connect 250,000 of these households. Our plan is working because we are working with our partners at the community level. We are about to open new calls for proposals to connect 100% of Canada’s communities to reliable, quality internet access. Our number one goal over the coming months will be supporting high quality plans and applications from every community who needs better access. Together, with partners like those involved here in Lambton County, we will achieve universal internet access so that geography does not determine any Canadian’s access to this essential service. Congratulations to hardworking local MPs and all involved!”

“For too long connecting rural communities with high-speed internet hasn’t been treated with enough urgency — our government has changed that,” said Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. “Improving connectivity for homes and businesses is critical for people to participate effectively in this highly competitive global economy.”

“In the past few months we’ve seen how important it is for individuals, families, and businesses to be able to connect online through reliable, high speed internet connections,” said Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia-Lambton. “Today’s announcement is another positive step toward the goal of expanding internet access in underserved areas of rural Southwestern Ontario and will help to retain and attract families and businesses to Lambton County.”

“This project will have a very positive impact in additional areas of Lambton County,” said Bill Weber, Lambton County Warden and SWIFT Board Member. “We are pleased to have been able to provide the additional funding to make this project happen in partnership with SWIFT and Brooke Telecom as we move a step closer to closing the connectivity gap in the province.”

“The advancement of this project with the support of many great new relationships, allows Kettle and Stony Point First Nation the opportunity to continue to thrive and grow. The boost in educational and economic impacts from this investment will be felt for years to come.” – Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point Chief Jason Henry.

The Ontario government recognizes how important rural broadband access is for individuals, families and businesses. Work continues to bridge the gaps in broadband access in Southwestern Ontario, as part of a combined $190 million investment to bring fast, reliable internet to thousands of homes and businesses.

Creating more ways to strengthen rural economies is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario together. Reliable and affordable broadband internet will allow communities to attract new development, strengthen local economies and create more well-paying jobs and opportunities in rural Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • SWIFT Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to address connectivity in Southwestern Ontario that will support the critical expansion of broadband to underserved areas.
  • The Ontario government’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan is expected to generate up to $1 billion in total investment over five years, resulting in new connections for up to 220,000 homes and businesses. This will lead to community, social and economic benefits well beyond the provincial investment.
  • The Ontario government will continue to expand access to broadband and cellular service through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON). This multi-year program aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.

Additional Resources

Media Contacts

Avi Yufest
Minister’s Office
[email protected]

Christa Roettele
Communications Branch
[email protected]
519-826-3145

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