"Community Fibre Spells
A first glance at the headlines on Industry Canada's
Communities" website might suggest small town Ontario, but
in fact, these 'success stories' describe the way the Acadian Shore
of Nova Scotia has moved into the highspeed lane.
And that's just for starters. A Geographic Information Systems (GIS) project is databasing information on land parcels, building permits, sewers, water, civic addresses, heritage districts and historical sites. Video conferencing and public information kiosks are being planned.
Other community enhancements include a "Smart Mentoring Program' which has provided computer and Internet training to 750 participants; a Smart Seniors pilot program which has a waiting list of seniors eager to learn about the Internet; a genealogy project that digitizes the records of Acadian settlers; and several youth-oriented programs that provide on-line education and internships. "
The Western Valley 'Smart Community' project was a part of a Federal Government taskforce initiative that was given a mandate to :"find the best approaches to make high-speed broadband Internet services available to businesses and residents in all Canadian communities by the year 2004".
Now, a followup program called "Connecting Canadians" is well on the way to the country's goal of making Canada "the most connected country in the world".
Other Nova Scotian communities are queueing at the onramp but for now, the pots of federal 'test' funding have run low. Instead, local CAP sites, where most connectivity and speed issues in rural Canada are centred, are offered a catalogue of broadband resources and "toolkits" to assist them in evaluating and deploying the advantages of community driven highspeed connectivity.
On the Eastern Shore, as in other rural communities, broadband presents an opportunity to bolster rural development through opportunities in tele-work, distant access to public services and e-commerce. While some schools of thought fear that enhanced ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) pose a threat rather than an opportunity for rural areas by reinforcing the attractiveness and influence of urban centres, communities along the 'e-shore' are slowly merging into the fast lane.
In Sheet Harbour, a secondary CAP site called "SHARC" (Sheet Harbour Area Resource Centre) has opened to the public. According to Larry Horton, long time volunteer co-ordinator for the Bridge to Bridge Internet Society, high speed access opens the possibility of establishing an ACCESS Nova Scotia site in the Eastern region of the province, so the need to travel to New Glasgow, Truro, Halifax or Dartmouth for registration renewals, licenses, Registry of Joint Stocks, etc. would be eliminated.
Other CAP sites
along the 300 km. long Eastern Shore are also seeking to resolve
issues of distance to services, education and employment through the
advantages of high speed broadband accessibility.
In many cases, CAP sites are manned by volunteers from the community, who work towards self-sufficiency for the site. A CAP site derives its revenue by a combination of community service offerings such as renting computer time, workshops, seminars and Internet access, usually for bare bones fees. Please support your local CAP site!
Affordable, accessible, community electronic resources
"The best time
to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now".
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