County not giving Clearwater Broadband Foundation $3.48 million loan

By Keanna Nelson (B94 Newsroom)
May 15, 2017 - 10:34am Updated: May 15, 2017 - 8:49pm

Clearwater County will not be loaning the Clearwater Broadband Foundation a loan worth up to $3.48 million dollars after an intense back and forth discussion and tight council vote.

At council's regular council meeting on May 9, councillors voted 4-3 on the decision.

"We've been talking about this for months and years and I think we are wanting to do something about our wireless" said Councillor John Vandermeer, who was in favour of giving the CBF the loan.

Other councillors who were also in favour of the loan were Jim Duncan and Theresa Laing. Kyle Greenwood, Curt Maki, Earl Graham and Pat Alexander were opposed. 

On February 28, the CBF brought forth a presentation of their vision to council which included a request for a 20-25 year loan to help pay for six testing projects they figured out, the operational budget, design and community engagement. So, council then directed Administration to get a legal review of the CBF proposal.

Based on items and clauses out of the Municipal Government Act, Reeve Pat Alexander says it would be risky for the County to provide them with the money.

"Really the money that is in Clearwater County's coffers is under the protection of seven councillors and we need to be very accountable for that money, and with the legal review there was potential that we could expose ourselves to some potential liabilities in the future."

In the end, Council made a motion for Administration to look at other options to help improve broadband services within Clearwater County. 

"For a number of years now we have been working with a group that has fourteen other municipalities that are working on improving high speed in their rural municipalities" says Alexander. "Two years ago we had this discussion and I have also had discussions with other municipalities that have got this model in place and it's a tower based model with some fibre to the towers and working with the large ISP's potentially and providing a better service and coverage for Clearwater County."

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