MAIN PHOTO: Premier Stephen McNeil announced the communities that would be part of Develop Nova Scotia’s Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative. Thirty-six communities in East Hants and the Musquodoboit Valley will benefit. The announcement took place on the lawn outside Uniacke Estate Museum in Mount Uniacke on Sept. 1. (Healey photo)

MOUNT UNIACKE: “Patience.”

That’s what Premier Stephen McNeil asked of East Hants—and Nova Scotia—residents as the province announced more than $59 million towards its Nova Scotia Internet Fund to connect more Nova Scotians to high-speed internet province-wide.

The Sept. 1 announcement was held on a beautiful N.S. morning at Uniacke Estate Museum in Mount Uniacke, with Uniacke Lake serving as the backdrop.

Thirty-six communities in East Hants and the Musquodoboit Valley were among the ones announced as part of Develop Nova Scotia’s Internet for Nova Scotia Initiative Phase 2 program.

All the projects will be looked after by Bell Canada. Work is already underway.

“This has been a journey that the province has been going through for more than a decade,” said Premier McNeil in response to a question asked by The Laker News. ‘Successive governments have made this commitment. I’m proud of the fact we were able to create the Internet Trust and really move it outside of government.

“Develop N.S. has done an outstanding job of being upfront and working with service providers.”

Premier Stephen McNeil at Uniacke Estate Museum. (Healey photo)

He wanted everyone to understand what has been announced isn’t a single type of technology, and that fibre is a critical component to this.

“So, thanks for your patience, we understand the importance of this,” said McNeil. “We’re committed to this as a government and will continue to work with those communities that are still waiting, some of whom I represent.

“Let’s celebrate the positivity and the fact we’re going to be able to lead the country when it comes to connectivity is an impressive feat for us.”

McNeil applauded Develop N.S. for their efforts.

“I don’t know if when we put this altogether if we thought Develop N.S. could deliver to the level that we announced today,” he said.

High speed internet access by 2022 is expected for communities that include:

  • Clarkesville (Gore; East Gore; West Gore; Upper Rawdon; Centre Rawdon; Rawdon; South Rawdon; Rawdon Gold Mines)
  • Maitland (Selma; South Maitland; Maple Grove; Urbania; Lattie’s Brook; Georgefield)
  • Middle Musquodoboit (Elmsvale; Newcomb Corner; Higginsville; Glenmore; Middle Musquodoboit; Elderbank; Chaswood; Lake Egmont; Meagher’s Grant; Wyses Corner)
  • Mount Uniacke (East Uniacke Road; Cockscomb Lake)
  • Shubenacadie (Gays River; North Salem; Carroll’s Corner; Cooks Brook; MacPhee’s Corner; Admiral Rock)
  • Upper Musquodoboit (Dean; Mill Lake; Greenwood; Upper Musquodoboit)

In February, Develop N.S. announced the first round of projects, which has a goal of providing 18,000 homes and businesses with new or improved high-speed internet. The target for Round 1 is 42,000. 

Jennifer Angel, the President and CEO of Develop Nova Scotia, said the announcement is just another step in connecting all Nova Scotians. (Healey photo)

Jennifer Angel, the President and CEO of Develop Nova Scotia, said the announcement is just another step in connecting all Nova Scotians. She underscored the urgency of the project, acknowledging it is one of the most important developments her group has taken on.

“It’s a good day but it isn’t the best day. That day will come when the job is done,” Angel said at the announcement. “While we’re pleased with the project and the progress we are able to show you today, our minds are already turned to those people and places that remain underserved.”

“When we are thinking about enabling economic participation and enabling a high quality of life and enabling economic development, access to the internet is crucial,” said

Angel said Develop Nova Scotia expects close to 11,000 homes and businesses will have new or improved internet access by next summer (2021); with that number increasing to 21,000 by the end of 2021; and then 32,000 by two summers from now in 2022.

The timeline. (Healey photo)

McNeil said the province is working to implement the projects to provide better internet access to people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“While I know that for many Nova Scotians, high-speed internet connection cannot come quick enough, we’re well on our way to ensuring that the majority of Nova Scotians will have access to high-speed internet in the coming months,” McNeil said.

In all, the government has invested $193 million into the internet expansion project with $59 million going into the final phase. That contribution is met by $61 million in funding from other public sectors like municipal governments and several other private sector contributions.

“This new round of projects means we’re on our way to delivering high-speed internet to 97 per cent of homes and businesses in Nova Scotia,” said McNeil  “Once complete, Nova Scotia will be among the first provinces in Canada to achieve this level of coverage.

“We need this coverage to continue to build a stronger economy and continue to grow our population across Nova Scotia.

“Being a connected province means we are that much more of an appealing place to live, work and to raise your family.”

Hants East MLA Margaret Miller was among those in attendance in Mount Uniacke. (Healey photo)

Angel said her team is committed to getting people hooked up as quickly as possible.

“We understand that this service is needed now more than ever,” said Angel. “Not only to support business growth and quality of life, but for business continuity and survival, for access to essential services like health care and education, to stay connected to loved ones.

“We know how much this means and we know how urgent it is. We don’t want to let you down.”

Kings-Hants MP Kody Blois; Hants East MLA Margaret Miller; Hants West MLA Chuck Porter; and other dignitaries were on hand at the announcement.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Kings-Hants federal MP Kody Blois listen to some feedback before the press announcement in Mount Uniacke.