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Bow Island to support Rural Broadband project, purchases home for new physician

Posted on May 18, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

By Anna Smith

Commentator/Courier

The May 8 Bow Island Town Council enjoyed some warmer weather, looking toward summer projects and the year to come.

Council moved to support the County of 40 Mile with a letter of intent. The County of Forty Mile is looking for partner support to apply for funding under the Universal Broadband Fund and Alberta Broadband Fund to install fiber optic connections to communities. 

It’s an extensive proposal, said Mayor Gordon Reynolds.

“It starts at Bow Island coming off of a fibre line that runs through Bow Island, and to take fibre down to Foremost and both east and west along Highway 61 and east of Bow Island as well,” said Reynolds. “Currently, there is a line that runs west, which was the first phase of their overall project that they put in last year that goes from a little bit past Western Tractor to the businesses out there. And they’re hoping to do the same thing to various other areas, and they’re asking for people to join up and everything from the town, the village, to businesses and farms along that road, and we agreed to join them to become essentially a shareholder.”

Bow Island hopes to get better connectivity for their airport industrial park, which unlike the rest of the town, is currently suffering from very little connection. Reynolds noted that while this kind of undertaking can be expensive, compared to other works such as extensive waterlines, this is relatively affordable.

The new Community Standards Bylaw has seen its third reading. The bylaw clarifies some previous terms, as well as adds a few new definitions.

The town will be, in partnership with County of Forty Mile and the Village of Foremost, purchasing a home for a new physician that will be coming to the area. This is not the first time this has happened, said Reynolds, with them purchasing several for the same purpose several years ago.

“Many years ago, the town owned a couple of houses that a couple of young doctors came and rented to get their start,” said Reynolds. “We learned from the town’s experience, and from talking with other communities doing physician recruitment, one of the big issues is certainly housing. And so when a lot of these doctors are starting out, whether it’s a new Canadian graduate or an international graduate, they have a lot of costs involved in getting set up and it’s finding a place to live is a big, big item in a rental market that is as tight as ours, it can be difficult for them to find a residence.”

The home will be rented out to the new physician, with the rent going into a fund that would be used in the event that repairs are needed.

“Once those places are sold in the future, that money is split up as well as it’s a good investment by the communities and it’s being done elsewhere,” said Reynolds. “In some smaller communities a good piece of the puzzle takes the load off them trying to find a place and ensures that in a tight market like we have, there is a supply but there is something there for them to rent when they arrive.”

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