The B.C. government’s work to connect all British Columbians to high-speed internet continues with more than $38 million in federal, provincial and partner funding for five major connectivity projects in rural and First Nations and Indigenous communities, Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims announced today.
“This is not just an investment in high-speed internet, it’s an investment in the future for those living in rural, First Nations and Indigenous communities, so they have access to cutting-edge emergency services, high-quality health care, world-class education and improved ability to participate in the growing digital economy,” said Sims. “By working with our federal and local partners, we are leveraging relationships to give people in these communities the same internet access as those living in major urban centres.”
Of the total amount, the province is contributing more than $11.3 million in key foundational funding to four major connectivity projects through the provincial Connecting British Columbia program. This will mean better and more reliable, high-speed internet connections to 32 communities throughout British Columbia, including 12 Indigenous communities.
The provincial contribution includes:
- $1.9 million to CityWest Cable and Telephone Corp. for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako;
- $400,000 to Gwaii Communications for communities on Haida Gwaii;
- $1.9 million to Shaw Communications for fibre-optic cable along Highway 99 between Whistler and Cache Creek; and
- $7 million to Shaw Communications to build fibre-optic cable along Highway 97 between Prince George and Dawson Creek.
This announcement was part of an event hosted by Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, as the federal government committed a further $19,748,063 to these four projects, plus a fifth project with the Sts’ailes Band. The federal funding for five projects is through the federal Connect to Innovate program.
“Access to high-speed internet is not a luxury, it’s essential,” said Bains. “High-speed internet service is a basic tool that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of their postal code. Canadians need this service to do business, upgrade their education and build stronger communities. Thanks to our Connect to Innovate program, more Canadians will be able to participate fully in the digital economy.”
In total, with federal and provincial funding, these five projects will receive $38,265,697 as local partners contribute an additional $7,151,757. That means that 33 communities in British Columbia, including 13 Indigenous communities, will benefit from this partnership.
Connecting British Columbia is a program funded by the Province, and administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to expand and upgrade broadband connections in rural and remote communities throughout B.C.
This investment builds on the B.C. government’s $11.4-million commitment to the Connected Coast project, announced Jan. 17, 2018. Connected Coast is a $45.4-million joint investment by the federal and provincial governments to bring high-speed internet to 154 rural and remote coastal communities, including 56 Indigenous communities.
“We are pleased to see British Columbia and its partners moving swiftly to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to communities across the province,” said Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Joel McKay. “Connecting communities with limited or non-existent internet access provides a swift and substantial boost to regional economies.”
“Canadians are looking for a quality internet connection – whether it’s to access education, business development, or to reach out to friends, families and loved ones,” said Brad Shaw, CEO, Shaw Communications. “Our partnership with the governments of Canada and British Columbia enables us to provide superior connectivity to more communities than ever before. We look forward to working with Indigenous communities, local internet service providers and other institutions to connect their communities to our network.”
“As a company that was built in the North, we know first-hand the challenges that our customers face, which is why we invest heavily in many areas of the North to bring internet to underserved areas,” said Chris Marett, CEO of CityWest. “With this announcement, the governments of Canada and British Columbia have opened the door to allow even more residents and businesses in the North to access fast, reliable internet.”
“Our company is proud to represent and help advance these basic rights to Haida Gwaii residents through the provincial government and the Connecting British Columbia program,” said Gwaii Communications managing director Joseph Lavoie. “Having support on multiple fronts come together to support this project shows the level of commitment there is to Haida Gwaii. The ability for the government to support local businesses in this common goal is greatly appreciated.”
- Provincial funding breakdown for the four projects includes:
- CityWest Cable and Telephone Corp. will receive $1,934,709 to construct a new fibre-optic network in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. This network will service 14 Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako communities, including six Indigenous communities.
- Communities benefiting from this investment include Tintagel, Endako, Broman Lake, Wiley, Perow, Lake Babine, Topley Landing, Tchesinkut Lake, Weneez, Sinkut River, Nak’azdli, Nadleh Whuten, Stellat’en First Nation and Wet’suwet’en Village.
- Gwaii Communications will receive $400,000 to connect 341 households on Haida Gwaii, with a fibre-optic connection capable of delivering speeds of 100 Mbps. This work will include a subsea cable to provide Sandspit with a comparable level of service to the rest of Haida Gwaii.
- Shaw Communications will receive funding for two projects:
- $1,927,353 to build a fibre-optic route along the Highway 99 corridor, from Whistler to Mount Currie (western phase), and from Lillooet to Cache Creek (eastern phase), for a total approximate distance of 110 kilometres.
- $7,083,815 to build a fibre-optic route along the Highway 97 corridor from Prince George to Dawson Creek, for a total approximate distance of 400 kilometres.
Connecting British Columbia program:
CityWest Cable and Telephone Corp. https://www.citywest.ca/
Gwaii Communications: http://www.gwaiicomm.com/
Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development news release: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development.html