Implementing broadband and eliminating cellphone service gaps in the rural areas of Frontenac County may be one of the biggest issues Frontenac County Council will tackle this term, according to the new warden, Ron Higgins.
In his address to the new council, Higgins said it is an integral part of all the Frontenac counties’ long-term sustainability.
Higgins bought up an alarming statistic for the rural regions; for every person entering the workforce currently, 135 are leaving.
“To ensure sustainability going forward is going to be impossible in my mind unless we retain and nurture the people we already have in place.”
Frontenac County includes north, south, central Frontenac, Frontenac Islands townships and Kingston, the only large urban centre.
People go where the jobs are and that’s why broadband through the region is so important, according to Higgins.
“We talked before about cell gap coverage and broadband, that’s to attract more people in. The more people you get in, the more resources you have for the workforce, everything seems to tie in that way.”
Higgins says all the counties in the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus are on board as are service providers.
“The Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus has discussions with the federal and provincial governments, both have verbally committed but nothing is signed yet.”
South Frontenac Mayor Ron Vanderwal says the townships are also looking to the provincial government to help them with their budgets.
He says one of the issues they’d like to see addressed is uploading some of the region’s highways back to the province.
“If that happens I know for our municipality and for central, north and the islands, it would make a huge impact on our budgets.”
Frances Smith, the county’s new deputy warden, says she looks forward to the completion of the K&P trail between Kingston and Charbot Lake.
“Charbot Lake is in my township and we’ve waited a long time to get this trail through, so the fact that that’s going to happen in this term is very exciting.”
That work is expected to be complete this spring playing a large part in linking the K&P trail to the Canada-wide trails network.