On track to meeting its goal to see every British Columbian with access to high-speed Internet, the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services is providing $2.5 million in grants to Internet service providers to expand and enhance high-speed Internet service for residents and businesses in rural and remote areas of the province.
This latest investment fulfils the commitment made in 2015 to provide up to $10 million under the Connecting British Columbia program to expand and enhance high-speed Internet service to rural and remote areas of the province, improving British Columbians access to online health-care services, education and training opportunities and allows businesses to grow and remain competitive.
Grants are being awarded to Internet service providers for a total of 10 projects that will upgrade or provide new Internet service to rural locales around:
- 100 Mile House rural: $310,971 grant to ABC Communications
- Gulf Islands: $126,750 grant to Beacon Wireless Inc.
- Copper Creek : $101,963 grant to ABC Communications
- Kootenay Lake: $433,650 grant to Columbia Basin Trust
- Lake Kathlyn and New Hazelton: two grants totaling $828,211 to CityWest
- Parts of rural Okanagan: $185,000 grant to ispeed Communications
- Sunshine Coast (Gambier Island, Keats Island, Port Mellon): $560,000 grant to Base Technology Ltd.
- Upper Slocan Valley (Hills): $15,600 grant to Red Mountain Internet Society
- Williams Lake Rural (Dugan Lake and McLeese Lake): $159,161 grant to ABC Communications
As part of the Province’s Rural Economic Development Strategy, and to build on the success of this program, government recently announced an additional $40 million to the Connecting British Columbia program. The expansion of this program will help regional Internet service providers, Aboriginal organizations, local governments, and other organizations to expand or enhance Internet connectivity to currently unconnected and underserved areas of the province.
Connecting British Columbia is a multi-year grant program funded by the Province and administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to support new and upgraded backbone and last-mile infrastructure projects in rural and remote communities in B.C. to drive innovation, regional growth and the creation of new jobs. The program can be used for new Internet connections and to upgrade existing Internet connections, for local Internet infrastructure builds and for new pathways.
Connecting B.C. program funding aligns with the province’s #BCTECH Strategy to bring the province closer to 100% high-speed connectivity. The funding will also help eligible B.C.-based Internet service providers leverage the new federal $500-million Connect to Innovate program to maximize funding available for rural connectivity projects.
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“Our Connecting British Columbia program has been a resounding success with $10 million allocated to 30 projects that will improve or expand Internet services in over 200 communities around the province. Providing a $40-million boost to this program will help improve rural Internet access, enabling more British Columbians to do business online, learn, access services and connect with others.”
Donna Barnett, chair of the Rural Economic Strategy, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin –
“Families and local businesses will benefit from the B.C. government’s investment to expand and improve Internet service to our rural communities. Investments that build capacity in rural communities are the foundation for future growth, economic certainty, and opportunity for all British Columbians.”
Joel McKay, CEO of Northern Development Initiative Trust –
“The Province’s leadership in establishing the Connecting BC program has improved service delivery and quality of life for thousands of rural residents throughout British Columbia. Northern Development has been proud to administer this program, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Province, communities and businesses throughout British Columbia to invest in connectivity and support economic diversification in rural communities.”
Bob Allen, CEO of ABC Communications and president of BC Broadband Association –
“The Province of B.C. has been a leader in Canada in assisting rural broadband providers to build sustainable businesses that have brought high quality Internet service to hundreds of small B.C. communities. This additional funding will allow us to improve and expand our services to those citizens.”
- Under the Connecting British Columbia program, $10 million has been allocated to 30 projects that will improve or expand Internet services in over 200 communities around the province.
- To date, more than 40,000 households have benefited from the Connecting British Columbia program.
Connecting British Columbia program: www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/business-development/connecting-british-columbia
Northern Development Initiative Trust: www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca
Rural Economic Development Strategy: https://bcjobsplan.gov.bc.ca/b-c-s-rural-economic-development-strategy
Interactive and searchable map showing broadband availability in B.C.: http://ow.ly/MjzD307Zsx3