OTTAWA – The federal infrastructure minister says he is looking to connect private backers with some of the country’s rural and northern communities to pay for badly needed broadband internet connections.
Provincial governments have leaned heavily on the Liberals to use whatever influence they have with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to get it to fund broadband internet projects, particularly in rural and remote locations.
The Liberals created the bank late last year to take $35 billion in federal financing and use it to leverage three-to-four times that from the private sector to help pay for major highways, bridges, and water and electrical systems to ease the financial burden on public coffers.
Provinces argue broadband yields a long-term revenue stream that would be enticing to any private investor willing to pay the connection costs.
Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says a single broadband line into one rural community is unlikely to grab the attention of large institutional investors, such as pension funds.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Champagne says he is looking at how different revenue models could entice private backers or bundle several smaller projects into one large proposal.