Media Releases

June 20, 2019

JohnQ Gets METRO Region Ready for Increased Internet Access: Foundational first step moves Manitoba closer to fast, reliable and affordable high speed connectivity

June 20, 2019 - JohnQ’s high-speed Internet project - Connecting to Opportunity - broke ground today at CentrePort Canada, North America’s largest tri-modal inland port. This foundational first step moves the growing METRO Region one step closer to fast, reliable and affordable high-speed Internet.

“With 64% of the total population of Manitoba and 70% of the GDP, it is important to have access to high-speed Internet in the METRO Region that will increase our competitiveness, to create good jobs and improve the quality of life for residents.” said Brad Erb, Chair of JohnQ.

"The Internet is a connector, literally through its pipes, but, more importantly, by connecting people with opportunities," said David Fowler, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s (CIRA) vice-president of marketing and communications.” Connecting to Opportunity is exactly the type of project we had in mind when we developed our Community Investment Program. As part of CIRA's commitment to build a better online Canada, we're proud to see the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region break ground today as they begin work to bring broadband to all Manitobans."

This project, a stand-alone portion of JohnQ’s Connecting to Opportunity fibre optic initiative, lays the groundwork for further projects that aim to deliver high-speed Internet and connect Manitoba’s businesses, farms, homes and institutions. The project is breaking ground at CentrePort Canada, which has seen a significant amount of new industrial activity.

“As we’ve seen with the recent construction boom at CentrePort, shovel-ready sites that offer essential services, like high-speed connectivity, are critical in attracting investment by local and national companies in growth mode,” said Diane Gray, President & CEO, CentrePort Canada Inc. “CentrePort is pleased to support this JohnQ initiative, as strategic infrastructure investments greatly enhance our ability to attract industry leaders, who create jobs for Manitobans.”

Further support has been requested from both the provincial and federal governments to support the next phase of the project which will expand the infrastructure to increase access to underserviced communities across Manitoba.

"Most municipalities and First Nations outside Winnipeg don’t have access to reliable and affordable Internet—isolating them from the digital economy.” said Chris Kennedy CEO of RFNOW—a strategic partner of the project, “There are many opportunities to connect these communities and, once all phases are complete, the METRO Region will be able to make an even larger economic impact.”

Unlimited high-speed Internet access allows business owners to remain competitive as they plan, build and scale up for future growth. “As developers, we hear it first-hand,” said Robert Scaletta, Senior Vice President, Industrial for Shindico who develops land at CentrePort. “I commend the leaders for stepping up through JohnQ and prioritizing Internet as it is a requirement for successful business models today.”

“To get a project like this off the ground demonstrates the power of regional collaboration,” said Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of the Winnipeg METRO Region. “Connecting to Opportunity will ensure the METRO Region and Manitoba has the necessary economic infrastructure required for businesses to come here, stay here, grow here, and in turn, secure our future.”

The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region (WMR) is comprised of 18 municipalities that include and surround Winnipeg. It provides the platform for municipalities to work on projects that cross boundaries in support of good growth, good stewardship and good governance.

JohnQ Public Inc. (JohnQ) is a co-operatively owned economic development corporation formed in 2018 by 13 members of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region (WMR) with a goal to capitalize on our collective strengths to enhance development opportunities that benefit the entire province.

RFNOW Inc. is a leading-edge communications company based in Virden, Manitoba. RFNOW Inc. is a company that has a depth of knowledge and experience working with communities across the province to ensure they have access to the digital economy. They currently have a large infrastructure, network and training program in practice in Manitoba.

CIRA’s Community Investment Program is building a better online Canada through the Community Investment Program by funding charities, not-for-profits and members of the academic community who are making the internet better for all Canadians. CIRA is best known for our role managing the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians. While this remains our primary mandate, as a member-based not-for-profit ourselves, we have a much broader goal to strengthen Canada's internet. To date CIRA has contributed $6.7 million in Community Investment Program grants.

CentrePort Canada is North America’s largest inland port, offering 20,000 acres of high-quality, affordable industrial land and unique access to tri-modal transportation, including three Class I railways (Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and BNSF Railway), a 24/7 global air cargo airport and an international trucking hub.


For more information: Colleen Sklar, Winnipeg METRO Region (WMR) 204-781-7346 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





March 1, 2019

Historic MOU Signed: Southern Chiefs & Winnipeg METRO Region Mayors & Reeves

Municipal leaders of the Winnipeg METRO Region (WMR) and the Chiefs of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) made history on Friday March 1, 2019 at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site in St. Andrews, Manitoba - the location of the historic signing of Treaty 1 in 1871, 148 years ago. The 25 elected leaders working together in the Collaborative Leadership Initiative (CLI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding recognizing the considerable political value of First Nation and municipal governments formally agreeing to work together on common goals and interests.

“This is the first ever Indigenous-municipal government MOU signed with this many partners anywhere that we know of,”

said Brad Erb, Co-Chair of the WMR, “In the spirit of reconciliation and re-building trust between our governments, this demonstrates our commitment to working together.”

This was the fourth gathering of the CLI, facilitated by the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) which began in October 2017 when a number of the Chiefs of SCO and mayors and reeves of the WMR met for breakfast and agreed that the status quo was not good enough. The assembled CLI leadership agreed that they needed a better way forward - a collaborative and strategic approach towards reconciliation based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In addition to shared interests and overlapping territories between First Nations and municipalities, the leaders recognized a critical need for building positive relationships, identifying common interests and barriers, dispelling myths and providing critical fact-based information for decision-making and coordination. The leadership involved committed to these four collaboration sessions that were designed to transform relationships and establish trust.

“Through the CLI, we have created a strong platform to further build our relationship by sharing the priorities and needs of our communities with each other,”

said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of SCO, “By signing the MOU on Friday, we are formalizing our relationship, as two levels of government. This enables us to progressively lead our communities toward shared prosperity, sustainable economic development and healthy lands and waters, working with other levels of government and the business sector”.


February 28, 2019

Edmonton Global Shares Insights on Keys to Economic Growth in the Winnipeg Metro Region

February 28, 2019 – With 85% of net new economic growth generated by metro regions across Canada, provinces and municipalities are coming together to find pathways to success.

The Winnipeg METRO Region (WMR), recently named a strategic partner in the Province of Manitoba’s Economic Growth Action Plan along with its partners at Economic Development Winnipeg, are hosting Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global - the newly formed regional economic development agency – to share what is possible when government, business and industry work together.

Bruce shared Edmonton Global’s economic strategy with over 90 leaders from government, business and industry in the region how the Edmonton Region charted a pathway toward regional economic development, “By strengthening partnerships and defining how the Edmonton Metropolitan Region can add value to the national economic narrative attracts investment and jobs,” said Bruce.

With the WMR responsible for 70% of the provincial GDP and comprised of many of the fastest growing communities in the province, there is an opportunity to explore the successful example of partnerships and the model of strategic regional economic development that Edmonton Global has established.

“Municipalities across the Winnipeg METRO Region know we need to do things differently,” said Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of the Winnipeg METRO Region, “By looking at the model used in the Edmonton region, we can learn how to chart our path forward to seize opportunities and drive economic investment and growth.”

Economic Development Winnipeg is also looking to further the collaborative process, "In Winnipeg, our business community has a reputation for coming together and working towards a common goal,” said Dayna Spiring, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg, “Because of that collaborative spirit, our city has seen greater success than other jurisdictions relative to our size and population. We can do more when we are all kicking in the same direction.”


December 13, 2018

New Partnership Closer to Offering High Speed & Fibre Optic Internet to Growing Winnipeg Metro Region

WINNIPEG - December 13, 2018 - Mayors and Reeves from METRO municipalities surrounding Winnipeg moved another step closer to offering high-speed and fibre optic Internet service today, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with two industry-leading strategic partners.

"Most municipalities surrounding Winnipeg don’t have access to reliable, future-ready Internet and communications services," said Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of the Winnipeg METRO Region (WMR), an organization recently tasked by the Province to deliver economic development funding and programming throughout the Region. "There are many opportunities to connect communities to the digital economy and, once complete, this project will help the WMR make an even larger economic impact.”

The MOU was signed today by JohnQ Public Inc., the WMR’s economic development corporation, and two well established local and national Internet service providers – WireIE and RFNOW Inc. The regional fibre optic project – Connecting to Opportunity – is a prime example of how JohnQ works and what the WMR can accomplish through this new collaborative business model. “Business owners, industry and residents all rank high-speed services as their top priority,” said Reeve Brad Erb of Macdonald, Chair of the JohnQ Board. “Bringing the right partners to the table is the critical next step to building a cost-effective, sustainable and competitive broadband network that will allow the Region to attract good companies and good jobs while also servicing the needs of residents.”

Next steps in the process between the strategic partners include:

  • Finalizing the business model;
  • Completing the design of the network;
  • Negotiating with other stakeholders;
  • Developing and recommending the final broadband service offerings for end users; and,
  • Developing and recommending an open access model for 3rd party ISPs to promote competition.

"WireIE is excited to help design and implement a carrier-grade broadband network,” said Rob Barlow, President & CEO. “WireIE overcomes constraints around geography, time and budget, to break through barriers that traditional legacy networks can’t address. We will meet and exceed latency, bandwidth and service assurance requirements with our partners.” Based in Virden, Manitoba, RFNOW Inc. has a depth of knowledge and experience working with under-served communities like those in the WMR. “Given our large infrastructure, network and training program, we are confident in our ability to help the Winnipeg METRO Region hit the ground running,” said Chris Kennedy, COO of RFNOW.

Through JohnQ, the development of high-speed Internet infrastructure is being explored for 43 under-serviced communities in the 13 member municipalities in the METRO region surrounding Winnipeg. Many are shovel ready which means construction could commence as early as mid-May 2019.

Ray Bouchard, President & CEO of Enns Brothers Ltd. and Chair of Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative (EMILI) offers his congratulations to the Winnipeg METRO Region. “This is an important step in advancing more productive and sustainable agriculture in the region,” he said. “Farm operations, businesses and residents need consistent access to high-speed Internet to implement the kinds of intelligent technologies that will inform and accelerate the agriculture sector and the Manitoba economy.”


July 12, 2018

Fibre Optics - Connecting to Opportunity

On Thursday July 12, 2018 local leaders gathered at the East St. Paul council chambers to review the findings of the recently completed Fibre Optic Feasibility Study. This detailed 1500-page study commissioned by the newly formed JohnQ Public Impact Incorporated - a municipally owned development corporation - outlined the business case and feasibility of the project. By undertaking the development of a shared fibre optic network across each participating community, Internet connectivity will be provided to all residents and businesses alike.

Most municipalities outside of Winnipeg don't have the fibre optic infrastructure that provides fast, future-ready internet and communication services that residents need; and they can't provide the advanced supports that business and industry look for when expanding or relocating.

Today’s economy and changing workforce requires access to fibre optic networks. With many Internet service providers offering fibre optic networks in communities where the population density supports their business models, this leaves many communities with low-speed and limited bandwidth often at a considerable cost.

Over the next few months through JohnQ, the leaders will explore several options and possible opportunities as they develop a full financial strategy and investigate all options available for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region communities to achieve its goal of connecting communities to create economic opportunities in a way that is affordable for everyone. Further information on this exciting initiative will continue to be shared as it becomes available.

Participating communities include:

  • RM of East St. Paul 
  • RM of Headingley
  • RM of Macdonald
  • RM of Ritchot
  • RM of Rockwood
  • RM of Rosser
  • RM of St. Andrews
  • RM of St. Clements 
  • RM of St. Françis Xavier 
  • RM of Taché
  • RM of West St. Paul


March 23, 2018

The Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region has a new name and a new outlook.

Welcome to the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region. We are growing and evolving, based on our strengthened spirit of collaboration, so Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region (PMCR) has adopted a new name and a new look. The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region that reflects the importance of our strong centre city – Winnipeg – and the unique character of the surrounding communities that make us a more exciting, productive and a desirable place to be.

Since 1998 The Partnership of the Manitoba Capital Region (PMCR) has brought the regions leaders together to tackle the many challenges of municipal governments. In step with the region’s long history of enterprise and innovation, the Mayors and Reeves have broadened their collective vision and are announcing a new name to reflect this perspective.

The communities across this region are strongly inter-connected and we are learning how to benefit from collaborative action. Colleen Sklar, Executive Director of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region stated “our new name reflects this evolution and aligns us with other metro regions in Canada and the rest of the world. These places are finding ways to effectively work together to solve a wide array of challenges allowing them to be more resilient and adapt to fast-changing landscapes. We will do that too.”

From its inception in 1998 by Winnipeg Mayor Susan Thompson and a group of pioneering Capital Region leaders the PMCR has continued to evolve while staying focused on the job at hand, creating the conditions for good growth, good stewardship and good governance.

The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region represents 18 municipalities including and surrounding the City of Winnipeg. “The current leaders around the table see more opportunities than ever before to collaborate, this allows to not only meet the needs of our communities but to maximize the full potential of this growing metropolitan region and the Province of Manitoba” said Frances Smee, Reeve of Rosser and Co-Chair of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.

“Whether you live in Winnipeg or the surrounding area, we are all connected, our kids go to school together, play sports together and attend events, regardless of the municipality we live in, our communities have moved beyond political boundaries. It is time now for policies and politics to catch up”, said Co-Chair Janice Lukes Councillor for the City of Winnipeg.

We are embracing a renewed spirit of partnership, allowing us to join the roster of other competitive regions such as the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, Denver Region and Calgary Metropolitan Region. We are joining a movement that reflects the values of our historical roots and ensures that our future will remain true to them.

Moving in step with regions across Canada and the globe requires that we build better relationships, adopt sound frameworks and pursue opportunities that encourage partnerships. This will allow us to realize our full potential, to be competitive, and a place where local businesses expand; where new businesses come and set-up shop and where the environment is protected for future generations. This is the mission of the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region.


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