The 68-kilometre infrastructure project, finished in December, brings broadband access to nearly 700 homes and businesses in south Pelham. SWIFT (Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology) is a non-profit municipally-led broadband expansion project created to improve internet connectivity in underserved communities and rural areas across Southwestern Ontario.
Only weeks after the Town of Lincoln secured a “historic” investment from Bell Canada to bring reliable high-speed internet to around 7,000 new locations in the municipality, another rural community in West Niagara is celebrating completion of a project that expanded access to broadband for 677 local residents and businesses.
On Friday last week, the governments of Ontario and Canada announced that the $5.1 million Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) joint-venture to bring reliable high-speed internet to nearly 700 residents and businesses, including farms, in the southwest of Pelham is now complete.
“We know reliable Internet access is a gateway to growth in rural Ontario,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.
“This new expansion of rural broadband in the Town of Pelham will connect more families and businesses to high-speed Internet. I know constituents in Niagara West will gladly welcome this new SWIFT project.”
The province and federal government contributed over $1.6 million to the project that brought broadband access to homes, storefronts, and farms across the communities of Chantler, Becketts Bridge, O’Reilly’s Bridge and Feeder.
It’s the first of four SWIFT ventures in the Niagara Region to be completed, with three others in rural areas around the peninsula currently in progress.
Though celebrated last week, construction on the 68-kilometre fibre-to-home project was actually finished at the end of December.
“High speed Internet isn’t just a quality-of-life issue for families in rural areas,” said Marvin Junkin, Mayor of Pelham. “Pelham has many sophisticated rural businesses which need to be connected to the world for sales and productivity purposes. It is very encouraging to see this work being done that will help to create the conditions for Pelham residents and businesses to thrive.”
SWIFT is a non-profit municipally-led broadband expansion project created to improve internet connectivity in underserved communities and rural areas across Southwestern Ontario.
The governments of Ontario and Canada are each contributing more than $63 million to SWIFT. Together, the two tiers of government have invested nearly $9 million in Niagara projects, with the private sector and municipal government contributing the remainder of the $21.2 million worth of local contracts.
In all, more than $255 million has been invested by Ontario, Canada, and the private sector to bring high-speed internet access to more than 63,000 homes and businesses in Southwestern Ontario through SWIFT by the end of 2023.
“As the local Member of Parliament, I have been advocating for federal support for the expansion of rural broadband for underserved areas in Niagara,” said Dean Allison, MP for Niagara West.
“Reliable high-speed Internet is key to a prosperous future for local farm operations and rural business in Fenwick.”
“I am very pleased that this project has been completed and has accomplished exactly what SWIFT was designed to do – bring high speed Internet connectivity to under serviced areas in Southwestern Ontario,” said Rob Foster, Lincoln Regional Councillor and board treasurer for SWIFT.
“This has been a great start to connecting farms, small businesses and rural residents to reliable technology that is required today, and I look forward to the next set of programs as we ensure all Niagara residents have access to broadband.”
The Ontario government, through partnerships like SWIFT, is investing nearly $4 billion to bring high-speed internet access to every corner of the province by the end of 2025. This is the largest single investment in high-speed internet in Canadian history.