Working Together to Connect Waldheim
Partnerships can be powerful, and the story of getting reliable and abundant high-speed internet in Waldheim shows what can happen when the industry, government, and people work together.
By 2018, it was clear that one of the town’s largest employers, My Mutual Insurance, needed better internet service to operate, and the existing options were unable or unwilling to deliver. The company did its research and found a potential solution with Redbird Communications. By August 2019, public notice went out to residents, following the formal proposal to bring service to Waldheim.
To make the project a reality, the Town and My Mutual, negotiated a deal with Redbird to share the capital cost of bringing a fibre optic line to town at a reasonable rate. Waldheim would connect with the FlexNetworks line running between Prince Albert and Saskatoon, and get access to speeds otherwise unheard of in the area—even residential connections get a gigabit.
Service was available in the town by spring of 2020, and the network expanded to homes and businesses over the next two years. The majority of the town is connected to the network already, improving work-from-home options and recreational opportunities.
“If you can have a municipal government that’s future oriented, focused on the needs of citizens, it’s amazing what you can do.”
– Chris Enns
Chris Enns was on the leadership team at My Mutual when the hunt for better internet began, and was elected to town council in October 2020. He says he’s heard a lot of praise from other residents about having access to high-speed fibre optic internet.
“It’s made a huge difference, even recreationally,” he says. “People are saving money because they’re running their whole household on internet services (streaming, VOIP, etc.), where they couldn’t do that before. For a resident or a small business, it’s made a huge difference.”
He also sees the benefit for Waldheim as a whole, today and in the future. Access to reliable and abundant internet isn’t the only benefit of living or working in Waldheim, but he counts it as an important addition to typical amenities such as a golf course, school, and hockey rink. Enns says the partnership with a local business made it a “no brainer” for council to bring the service to town.
“When you look at what a municipality pays for other infrastructure to make the community viable, we didn’t have to contribute that much to add fibre optic as a service here,” he says. He also gives credit to a council that was looking to the long-term future of the town. “If you can have a municipal government that’s future oriented, focused on the needs of citizens, it’s amazing what you can do.”