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Nov. 8, 2022
NANOOSE BAY – More than 1,800 households in seven rural, remote and Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and three Gulf Island communities can look forward to high-speed broadband internet unlocking better, faster access to digital services and opportunities.
“Providing the same level of access, quality and opportunities in communities across British Columbia is vital,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Reliable, high-speed internet access for rural, remote and Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will further bridge the digital divide and bring British Columbia closer to connecting every community in B.C. with high-speed internet access by 2027.”
Provincial investments for as much as $3.8 million for high-speed connectivity expansions will build new last-mile fibre-to-the-home connectivity infrastructure, providing access to broadband internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. This means access to faster, more reliable broadband internet services.
More than 600 households in Sproat Lake near Port Alberni; Forbidden Plateau near Comox Valley; and Ross Road, including approximately 2.3 kilometres along Island Highway East in Nanoose Bay, will benefit from as much as $2.5 million in provincial funding through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT). Internet service provider Telus contributed as much as $2.2 million toward the approximately $4.7-million total cost of the project.
“The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce welcomes this initiative and looks forward to the positive impact it will have for our business community. We live in a connected world where high-speed internet services are essential to all businesses,” said Kim Burden, executive director, Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce. “The chamber is engaged in a tech attraction strategy with other Island communities, and this announcement will help that initiative to grow our Island tech community.”
People in Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Houpsitas 6 of the Kyuquot First Nation, and Winter Harbour on northern Vancouver Island, as well as the communities of Van Anda on Texada Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island, will benefit from faster internet, thanks to $4.6 million in joint federal and provincial funding that will connect more than 1,200 households.
The Province has invested as much as $1.3 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, alongside a $3.3-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund. The estimated $6.5-million total cost of the projects also includes as much as $1.2 million contributed by internet service provider CityWest and as much as $618,000 in other funding.
“We all know that internet is no longer a luxury in this day and age – it’s a necessity. Access to fast, reliable internet helps rural Canadians by levelling the playing field to access essential services, like health care and education, participate in the digital economy, or simply connect with loved ones,” said Gudie Hutchings, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development. “Today’s announcement to connect places, like Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Winter Harbour, Texada Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island, reinforces our federal government’s commitment to getting British Columbians connected, no matter where they live, by 2030. What’s more, I am happy to report that we’ve already connected 96% of the province and are well on our way to reaching our target.”
In March 2022, the Province partnered with the federal government to provide as much as $830 million to expand high-speed internet services to underserved rural and First Nations communities.
The B.C. government’s commitment to support expansion of high-speed internet services to all communities by 2027 will level the playing field for British Columbians and ensure every community has better access to jobs, education, training and health care.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund: https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/high-speed-internet-canada/en/universal-broadband-fund
Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Citizens’ Services
What people are saying about Connected BC projects
Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief operations officer, Telus –
“Telus is committed to ensuring everyone can thrive in our digital world, no matter where they live. As part of our ongoing commitment to better enable rural and Indigenous communities throughout the province, we are proud to work alongside the Government of British Columbia to bring critical connectivity to remote communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, equipping residents and businesses with the speeds and coverage they need to connect to the people and information that matter the most.”
Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest –
“We’re thrilled by today’s announcement to bring improved connectivity to more underserved communities. These last-mile fibre-optic projects will provide residents with urban-class connectivity, creating equal opportunities for more rural and remote British Columbians. We would like to express our thanks to the Province of B.C. and the federal government for their vision on ensuring that these communities are able to unlock their connectivity aspirations.”
Bob Rogers, electoral area director for Nanoose Bay, Nanaimo Regional District –
“High-speed internet is vital for equal access to the wide variety of online services now available. We appreciate the investment in our community and the opportunities that will open up for both residents and businesses in the area once the high-speed service is connected.”
Penny Cote, electoral area director for Sproat Lake, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District –
“This investment is welcome news for our community of Sproat Lake. Connectivity has become a vital piece of infrastructure for our residents, who are increasingly working from home while enjoying the rural lifestyle that is unique to the Sproat Lake community. This new high-speed connection will make it easier for them to do both.”
Edwin Grieve, electoral area C director, Comox Valley Regional District –
“Investing in local connectivity has been a priority for a number of years. During COVID-19, the issue became very real as residents were working from home and needing to complete daily activities online. We are thrilled to see reliable, high-speed service advancements within the Forbidden Plateau area to help bridge the divide and ensure residents can remain connected.”
Andrew Hory, chair, Regional District of Mount Waddington –
“Providing reliable high-speed internet to the communities in our area has been a keystone of our community development strategy for several years. We are very pleased to partner with the federal and provincial governments, contributing $190,000 toward the last-mile connection in seven of our coastal communities and helping advance the goal of universal internet coverage throughout the region.”
Kevin Jules, Legislative Vice Chief, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations (KCFN) and board member, Strathcona Regional District –
“We look forward to closing the digital divide in our community. Reliable high-speed internet will improve our ability to participate in online learning and health care, and allow us to easily connect with family living elsewhere. This is a huge step forward and will enable our community to take advantage of new opportunities to build and grow.”
Al Radke, chief administrative officer, qathet Regional District –
“High-speed internet provides our residents access to emergency services, educational opportunities, employment, and basic goods and services. The qathet Regional District is thrilled for this grant funding to address the connectivity divide in Van Anda on Texada Island. Participation in the digital world is critical for ensuring community resilience. Improved internet accessibility will support improved economic sustainability for our rural communities.”
Paul Brent, electoral area director for Southern Gulf Islands, Capital Regional District –
“Dependable high-speed internet service will support the social and economic sustainability of the island by reducing off-island ferry travel, opening access to online government services, supporting aging in place with options for telehealth, and enabling remote work and new opportunities for young families.”
Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust –
“These investments through the Connecting British Columbia program demonstrate that no community is an island in today’s digital landscape, even if they are located on an island. As hundreds of households gain access to reliable high-speed internet, people will be able to strengthen their connections to other people, ideas and services while continuing to enjoy their rural, island lifestyle. Doors will also open to new possibilities in the digital economy.”
Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum and Parliamentary Secretary for the New Economy –
“Reliable and fast internet connectivity is the backbone of the digital economy; it allows people to have equal access to services and opportunities comparable to urban centres. These investments in our communities will help support our commitment to building an economy that works for everyone in B.C.”
Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island –
“Access to high-speed internet is crucial for people living and working in rural and remote areas like the north Island communities of Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Kyuquot and Winter Harbour. It encourages community growth and economic strength by ensuring people can have access to opportunities for business, education, job training and access to services comparable to urban centres. I am thrilled to share this exciting news.”
Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtney-Comox –
“Connecting the province ensures every British Columbian can have access to similar quality of high-speed internet services no matter where they live. Connectivity expansion projects, like this one benefiting people in the Forbidden Plateau area of the Comox Valley, help ensure all people have equal access to high-speed internet in their communities, whether you live in a remote area or just next to an urban centre.”
Ministry of Citizens’ Services
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