Remote island communities to benefit from connectivity investments for faster, more reliable internet

Remote island communities to benefit from connectivity investments for faster, more reliable internet
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The Government of B.C. is making connectivity investments to bring a more reliable internet connection to some of the province’s remote coastal communities.

The investments will focus on providing improved internet performance with faster speeds as part of the StrongerBC economic recovery plan.

Zeballos and Quadra Island are two of the communities to benefit from these investments, along with places like Cortes Island, Bella Coola and Skidegate.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves and joining with communities, First Nations and service providers to usher in a new age of connectivity along B.C.’s stunning coastline. Improvements to internet access will begin to arrive this year, unlocking opportunities for people, families and workplaces in coastal areas,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Connectivity brings the world to our doorsteps. Together, we can ensure people in coastal communities have the internet access they need.”

The Province expanded the Connecting British Columbia program in September 2020 with a $90-million grant to encourage investment in broadband and cellular infrastructure to benefit people in rural and Indigenous communities throughout B.C.

Internet service provider CityWest will receive more than $10 million from Connecting British Columbia to enhance connectivity for more than 2,800 households in remote areas across the province, including communities within the territories of the Haida Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Ehattesaht First Nation and Klahoose First Nation.

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“Coastal First Nations hold the keys to transforming B.C.’s economic and well-being future,” said Christine Smith-Martin, executive director, Coastal First Nations. “As communities along the central, north coast and Haida Gwaii get connected through high-speed internet and included in B.C.’s ever-growing digital opportunities, there is a wealth of cultural wisdom, prosperity and world-renowned stewardship leadership that will accelerate our member Nations’ collective vision in building a conservation economy while protecting our environment. As ‘connected Nations,’ we look forward to working with the Province to create a better future for our next seven generations.”

CityWest is also a proponent behind Connected Coast Network, a $45.4-million investment in coastal connectivity funded in part by the Connecting British Columbia program. The government says this project will bring a fibre-optic connection to coastal communities on Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island and between Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative, remote forms of educating students have never been more important. Overcoming connectivity limitations helps us achieve our education goals and keep students engaged,” said Sean Rogers, director, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. “We are looking forward to taking advantage of emerging technologies that rely on connectivity infrastructure. Improved internet access will bolster our research capacity to study climate change predictions in the ocean ecosystem.”

According to the Province, Connecting British Columbia is also helping Shaw Communications improve internet performance for people living on Mayne, Pender and Galiano islands with a grant up to $341,100 toward project costs.

The government says this investment will not only allow these communities to have access to the connectivity they need to work and learn but also allow residents to stay connected to friends and loved ones from their homes.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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