Lack of funding won't stop town
Hay River still hopes to implement Smart services

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Hay River ( May 22/00) - The Town of Hay River may have lost out on the $5 million Smart Communities award, but that doesn't mean its projects won't be implemented.

"We're going to try to do what we can," said town manager Charlie Scarborough, also a member of the Hay River Smart Communities Society.

The City of Yellowknife was the Northern community chosen to receive up to $5 million in funding from Industry Canada last week to implement its Smart Community programs.

The Yellowknife project has identified four communications centres for its project that will be accessible by phone, Internet or cable television.

"We're hoping that this ($5 million grant) is going to allow us to keep the North out in front," said Ben McDonald, Yellowknife project leader.

"We don't want this to only be a benefit to Yellowknife, we would like it to benefit all the North," said McDonald.

But Scarborough said Hay River's Smart Communities Society is confident it can go ahead with several of its service proposals independently.

Those services are dependent on the creation of a wireless system in the community which would provide access to virtual schooling, tourism projects, E-commerce business solutions, visitor services and interactive public kiosks.

In its original proposal, the Hay River society planned to make the wireless system accessible to the entire community.

"We're going to try to scale back the original scope of the project and do those smart services we think we can do internally," said Scarborough.

"Also, we had a number of sponsors and contributors that signed on to our project in terms of cash and in-kind contributions, so we're seeing if those people are still willing to participate and how much they will be able to contribute," he said.

Scarborough said the Society has not formally contacted the sponsors as of yet, but many still appear to be interested in the initiative.

"It feels pretty positive out there...I still feel we can do something and do a good job at it," assured Scarborough.

"We may have to scale down our project and we may not be able to do all of the Smart services that we proposed, but we're going to focus on what we feel are the best ones," he said.

The Hay River Smart Communities Society will know more about the project in the next few weeks.