The world is changing and the Town of Brome Lake is changing with it. The town is offering to subsidize high speed internet service to homes that don’t already have it. It would apply mostly to people in rural areas. The town would spend around $16,000 to get the high speed Internet to the location but only charge $50 a year on the tax bill of those who receive it.
The proposal is a sound move as faster internet will attract many younger residents and micro businesses, both of whom can’t live without it. There is a reason coffee shops and restaurants offer free WiFi, it attracts paying customers.
Many people judge the health of business in this area by the number of empty shops. The reality is that the internet has changed retail forever. Specialty stores flourish here, but many others have gone under. You can order it online.
Closed shops do not mean the area is not prosperous. Behind any door, whether it is in town or on a remote rural road, there may be a small business running on the internet. Governments can’t create these jobs, but they can encourage them.
There is anecdotal evidence that housing sales are up and some younger people are attracted by what are low housing prices when compared to the big city or other provinces.
A look at Cowansville shows it too is expanding with many new housing tracts. There are also some dismal store fronts in the old downtown as there are here.
There are bylaws in our town that keep the windows of some of the old retail outlets covered with brown paper. Current rules do not allow them to convert to residential, even though that is what they might have been 50 or 100 years ago. Perhaps the town should think again, and allow easy conversion of abandoned shops to apartments or condos. The new residents may end up running a more profitable Internet-related business than the shops they take over.
Editorials are unsigned since they reflect the consensus of the Editorial Board