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Internet access petition tabled in provincial legislature

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin recently tabled a petition calling for improved internet access in Cumberland County.
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin recently tabled a petition calling for improved internet access in Cumberland County. - Dave Mathieson

MALAGASH, N.S. – Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin says rural Nova Scotia has been left behind in the growing digital age.

On March 29, Smith-McCrossin tabled a petition in the provincial legislature from the Cumberland County community of Malagash.

The petition contains close to 100 signatures and is calling for immediate action to improve internet access in their community.

Smith-McCrossin says she hears from her constituents daily about how frustrated they are with the inconsistent and sometimes non-existent internet services in Cumberland County.

“From paying bills, researching class projects to corresponding with friends, it has become nearly impossible to function in this world without access to the internet,” says Smith-McCrossin. “Our community is home to entrepreneurs, retirees and families who have chosen to make a life here. Delays to improve this service are only widening the rural-urban divide.”

Pugwash resident Zach Holden says he often feels like he is paying for a service he gets only some of the time. He has collected over 300 signatures for a second petition for the Pugwash area that will be submitted to the Legislature as well.

“Half the time the connection is choppy at best and the rest of the time, it is down completely,” says Holden. “Yet people here are paying the same amount of money as those with consistent service. It’s unfair and it needs to stop.”

Cathy Bates retired to Malagash with her husband in June 2018. She says her husband, who still runs a business, often has to stay in a hotel so he can get a consistent signal.

“We chose Malagash as where we wanted to retire and make a life but not having internet access has made the transition difficult,” says Bates. “Not having basic access means businesses who would choose to lay roots here will look elsewhere.”

Smith-McCrossin hosted a meeting in Malagash and forwarded the community’s concerns in a letter sent to Develop Nova Scotia on March 19.

“Internet has become the foundation of the economy, education, tourism and communication,” says Smith-McCrossin. “If rural Nova Scotia has any chance of survival, we need to connect our province and bring it into 2019.”

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