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$70,000 for BOP internet upgrades, virtual programming

Posted on September 6, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

The Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation has received federal funds to update their internet connection and provide virtual schooling.

Through the federal Community Services Recovery Fund, the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation has received $70,000 for the installation of high-speed internet and to purchase computer equipment to allow them to deliver online educational programming for the first time.

Colin Weir, managing director of the foundation, said they were “absolutely delighted” to receive the funding for the project, as they had been searching for it for several years.

“It will allow us to provide ‘virtual’ programs to schools across Alberta and beyond. During the pandemic we had many requests to connect with schools virtually, that unfortunately could not be fulfilled. Broadband internet will finally allow our organization to operate more efficiently for staff and volunteers, who now will be able to work and collaborate from the centre, instead of from their private homes, after hours,” said Weir. “This project also opens the door for other benefits as well such as providing Wi-Fi to all our visitors across our site.”

The foundation’s site was built in 1989 as a stormwater retention area, and Weir said at the time it was supplied only with basic infrastructure of the day, noting that internet did not exist at the time. As the years passed and the foundation’s site and needs grew, so did the need to improve their infrastructure. However, it was cost-prohibitive for them to receive a high-speed connection, as they were the only customer on the north side of 16 Avenue.

“Can you imagine any business or organization, doing business in the world today, without a high-speed internet connection? That is the challenge we have been living with for over the past 15 years,” said Weir. “Once a broadband connection was finally brought to our front door in 2022, this only solved half the problem. We still had the major complex challenge of routing an internet line and all the needed equipment across our site to all the various buildings, especially those where we do our education and administrative work. Now we will be able to finally make this happen.”

The funding was distributed by the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta and the United Way of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. Through the CRSF, the Community Foundation, in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, is providing $610,000 to 21 projects, while the United Way is providing $398,319 to six projects.

Community Foundations, who had awarded the funding to the foundation, had been in charge of administering the ‘Investing in Systems and Processes’ stream in the CSRF program, and several of their awarded projects involved technology upgrades and purchases.

“The Community Services Recovery Fund was designed to help the charitable sector modernize and be better equipped to improve their efficacy, accessibility, and sustainability,” said Charleen Davidson, executive director of Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. “When they applied, the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre did not have a reliable internet connection. As a result, they were unable to offer online programming throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately resulted in a significant loss in revenue. With the CSRF they can modernize through the installation of broadband, which will make them more efficient, accessible, and sustainable.”

Weir is hoping to have things running by the summer of 2024.

“Once complete, this project will be a major technological advancement for our facility, a game changer, that will allow us to better serve communities across the region and connect with others from across Canada and beyond.”

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