Internet service providers and other community-based organizations will soon be eligible to apply for new $16 million grant funding to improve connectivity in rural, remote and Indigenous areas in B.C., announced Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services.
“This is a great opportunity for locally driven connectivity projects that will make a real difference in the lives of people living and working in rural and remote areas,” said Sims. “We want to make sure that internet service providers, community organizations and First Nations and Indigenous communities have access to funding that will deliver better internet to the people and businesses that need it the most.”
Beginning July 1, 2018, applications will be accepted for projects that will deliver last-mile connections to rural and remote homes and businesses. Last-mile projects are the final connections for homes, businesses and other institutions to a high-speed network.
Starting Sept. 1, 2018, this same funding will be available for the next intake period for projects that provide transport fibre lines delivering connectivity to entire regions.
“This will be a great opportunity for Lheidli T’enneh to partner up with the Province of British Columbia and Northern Development Trust to ensure that our community has an opportunity to improve and expand our internet connectivity,” said Chief Dominic Frederick, Lheidli T’enneh. “Further, this announcement will see the inclusion of all First Nations communities being able to participate and be a part of the web-based global economy.”
The $16 million is part of $40 million committed in 2017 to expand the Connecting British Columbia program, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
An additional $83 million in funding from federal, provincial and local partners has been announced since January 2018. This funding for coastal and rural communities is expected to benefit an estimated 187 communities — including 69 First Nations and Indigenous communities.
“We are excited to soon begin accepting applications for another round of funding to connect even more British Columbians with high-speed internet that will strengthen our regional economies,” said Joel McKay, chief executive officer of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Thank you to the Province of British Columbia for continuing to support connectivity in rural and remote communities.”
“The B.C. government and Northern Development Initiative Trust have a long track record of working to support quality internet access for B.C.'s rural citizens,” said Bob Allen, president, BC Broadband Association. “This support has brought urban-grade connectivity at affordable pricing to thousands of rural and remote B.C. households. The BC Broadband Association and its member ISPs are grateful for this continued support, and look forward to learning more about the application process.”
- To date, the Connecting British Columbia program has distributed $34 million in provincial funding to support 34 connectivity projects, benefiting approximately 433 communities throughout B.C.
- The total value of the projects supported by Connecting British Columbia, including federal and private sector funding, has been $113 million.
- Transport fibre lines move data long distances between small towns to where it can be offloaded to the internet.
- Criteria for the last-mile proposals will be available beginning July 1, 2018, and criteria for the transport fibre projects will be available Sept. 1, 2018, at the Northern Development Initiative Trust website.
Northern Development Initiative Trust administers the Connecting British Columbia program: www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/connecting-british-columbia
On March 13, 2018, the Province, the federal government and private sector partners announced a combined $38 million in funding for five major connectivity projects throughout the province: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018CITZ0005-000389
On January 17, 2018, the federal government and B.C. jointly announced more than $45 million for connectivity to coastal regions between Prince Rupert and Vancouver, Haida Gwaii and around Vancouver Island: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018CITZ0001-000062