McGuinty Government Connecting Rural Communities



    Ontario Municipal Rural Broadband Partnership Program Invites
    Applications From Rural Municipalities In Southern Ontario

    QUEEN'S PARK, June 6 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government announced today that
it is now accepting applications for Rural Connections ... The Ontario
Municipal Rural Broadband Partnership Program.
    "The expansion of broadband technology in rural Southern Ontario is a
priority for our government," said Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs. "With this funding, a significant number of rural
municipalities will be able to build broadband networks that will improve the
lives of their citizens and their local economies."
    The $10 million program was announced in the 2007 Ontario Budget and is
targeted toward rural municipalities in Southern Ontario that are ready to
build and sustain broadband capability in their communities. Rural
Connections ... The Ontario Municipal Rural Broadband Partnership Program is
led by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, together
with the Ministry of Government Services and the Ministry of Small Business
and Entrepreneurship.
    "The funding will focus not only on the construction of broadband
infrastructure but also on community outreach and sustainability efforts, to
ensure what is built today can be maintained for years to come," said Gerry
Phillips, Minister of Government Services.
    The Ontario government will fund up to one third of the cost of
qualifying broadband projects up to a maximum of $1 million. The remainder of
the funding will come from the municipalities and their project partners.
    "This investment in broadband infrastructure in rural Southern Ontario
will give small and medium-sized businesses the ability to grow and compete in
markets around the world, as well as foster entrepreneurship and innovation in
rural communities," said Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small Business and
Entrepreneurship.
    "We are very pleased that the Government of Ontario is making this
important investment in rural municipalities," said Doug Reycraft, President
of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. "Provincial funding that
connects rural communities with a changing economy is an investment in
opportunity and prosperity that benefits all Ontarians."
    For more information and application documents, interested municipalities
can visit www.ontario.ca/rural or call 1-888-588-4111. Applications are due no
later than 5 p.m., July 13, 2007.
    
    This is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians have
achieved results in rural Ontario. Other examples include:
    -   Investing $28.2 million in 94 projects through the Rural Economic
        Development Program since October 2003
    -   Investing $520 million over 12 years in the Ontario Ethanol Growth
        Fund to expand ethanol production and use in Ontario, and to advance
        Ontario's research and innovation efforts in alternative renewable
        fuels
    -   Enhancing the educational experience of rural students by providing
        specialized programming utilizing community and local resources, a
        new farming and rural major within the Specialist High Skills Major,
        and new rural and agricultural related cooperative education courses.

    Disponible en français

                            www.ontario.ca/omafra


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            RURAL CONNECTIONS ...
          THE ONTARIO MUNICIPAL RURAL BROADBAND PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
    

    Rural Connections ... The Ontario Municipal Rural Broadband Partnership
Program is a one-time initiative designed to reduce broadband infrastructure
gaps in southern Ontario.
    Broadband, also known as high-speed Internet, combines telecommunications
infrastructure and service, allowing end-users to use the Internet for
recreation and commerce at speeds far greater than traditional dial-up service
allows.
    Rural municipalities in southern Ontario that meet the eligibility
requirements can apply for provincial funding individually - or jointly with
other municipalities through one lead applicant - for up to one third of
eligible approved project costs to a maximum of $1 million. Municipalities,
telecommunication providers, and other private partners must contribute the
balance of the project costs.
    The program requires that municipalities demonstrate that they are
working in partnership with community stakeholders and other partners to
develop and implement a plan from a county or regional perspective that is
designed to reduce broadband gaps.
    Rural Connections ... The Ontario Municipal Rural Broadband Partnership
Program is a time-limited initiative. To be selected for funding, applicants
must demonstrate a readiness and ability to begin implementation and incur all
project expenses by March 31, 2008.
    Once projects have been selected, approved projects will develop detailed
business and technical plans, including the selection of a telecommunications
service provider through an open and transparent tendering process. Selected
projects will be assisted in preparing their business and technical plans
through Local Support Teams. Selected projects will begin infrastructure
implementation as soon as possible and no later than October 15, 2007.
    Selected projects must also include a plan for long-term sustainability
that addresses such components as uptake and utilization of the new
infrastructure by residents, businesses and the community at large.

    
    Objectives and Priorities

    -   Reduce broadband infrastructure gaps in rural southern Ontario.

    -   Enable small and medium size business in rural southern Ontario to
        fully participate in the digital economy.

    -   Improve public access to government services and information.

    -   Support businesses and citizens to effectively utilize broadband for
        economic and social development.

    Benefits

    -   Help make Ontario more productive, innovative, and competitive in the
        global economy.

    -   Enable a diversified economy in rural communities that fosters
        entrepreneurship and enables the growth of small and medium
        enterprises.

    -   Enhance the quality of life of people in rural areas of southern
        Ontario through improved access to multi-level government information
        and services, education and skills training, health care, and
        community and global information resources.

    Key Dates

           Application process closes on July 13, 2007 at 5 p.m.

           Projects selected for funding will be notified in early August
           2007.

           Completed Business Plan and Technical Plan are due no later than
           October 5, 2007.

           All selected projects must begin implementation by October 15,
           2007.

           Approved eligible expenses must be incurred no later than
           March 31, 2008.


    Disponible en français

                             www.omafra.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Kelly Synnott, Minister's Office, (416)
326-6439; Brent Ross, Communications Branch, (416) 326-9342

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Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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