Housing, roads and education are a few of the topics being discussed at an economic strategy meeting for far northern communities this week.

The two-day Athabasca Economic Strategic Planning Session is being held just north of Prince Albert at Waskesiu.

Ed Mirasty, Director of Education for the Prince Albert Grand Council, says improvements in communications technology are key to fostering education and economic development in far northern communities.

“We’ve been partnering with SaskTel and the connection for the north was a high priority for the Prince Albert Grand Council,” he says.

Mirasty adds this involves continued lobbying of government to leverage more dollars to improve Internet bandwidth.

He says this type of lobbying has resulted in PAGC schools going from three to more than 50 megabytes of bandwidth capacity.

“The federal government has now invested in up to 100 megabytes of bandwidth whereas before this all took place they were only committed to three megabytes.”

Mirasty says high bandwidth fibre optic Internet is essential to offering the most advanced educational programming to the far north.

This is the third economic planning meeting of this type for the Athabasca region.

The first such meeting was held in 2004 and another in 2009.

Communities in the Athabasca region include Hatchet Lake, Fond du Lac, Black Lake, Stony Rapids, Uranium City, Wollaston Lake and Camsell Portage.

The planning session wraps up Thursday.

(Photo by Fraser Needham)