Get up to speed, Olds told

Olds residents learned why speed matters in a Citizen Planning Circle held in the town on Friday and Saturday.

Olds residents learned why speed matters in a Citizen Planning Circle held in the town on Friday and Saturday.

Fifteen randomly selected individuals learned about the basics of broadband Internet service, high-speed Internet’s bigger picture and its potential impacts on the economy, way of life and agriculture.

Fiona Cavanagh, executive director of the Centre for Public Involvement, said the workshop was geared around having meaningful conversations with a diverse group of citizens about maximizing the use of rural high-speed Internet.

Cavanagh said they heard from the group that broadband is a critical component for rural and economic development.

“It’s not just in Alberta but it is in Canada,” said Cavanagh.

“It’s a critical issue that is being discussed and contemplated in rural communities in Alberta and across Canada.”

The first two days focused on education and learning the basics of broadband which is also referred to high-capacity Internet connectivity or high-speed Internet. The participants worked through a discussion guide developed for the workshop.

In Canada, broadband service refers to download speeds of 1.5 megabits per second or greater.

The participants were randomly chosen through a mail out and are not part of any stakeholder groups.

A report will be presented to town council and the project partners when the consultation and learning process wraps up next weekend.

Partners in the Citizen Planning Circle project include the Centre for Public Involvement with the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and the town.

Cavanagh said the participants will develop strategies and recommendations from the discussions that emerged from the planning circle during the final session on April 12.

A private fibre optic network through O-Net is currently being further developed in Olds.

It is billed as Canada’s fastest, community owned optic Internet network.

About 200 businesses and homes have been hooked up so far and another 200 are on a waiting list.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com