People in the Creston Valley community of Wynndel can enjoy improved high-speed internet access, thanks to the completion of a project supported by the Connecting British Columbia program.
“Every time the Connecting British Columbia program succeeds in improving internet access for rural and Indigenous communities, we grow stronger as a province. High-speed internet access empowers people as they work, learn and stay in touch with loved ones,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Unlocking these opportunities for people in communities like Wynndel is what the Connecting British Columbia program is all about. People in rural and Indigenous communities throughout B.C. will benefit from similar investments in the coming year.”
Funding for the project came from the $50-million expansion of the Connecting British Columbia program announced in December 2019. The Province followed that up with its largest-ever contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program as part of Stronger BC: B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan. A $90-million grant to the program in September 2020 is helping support many more projects in communities like Wynndel.
“Wynndel is the Creston Valley’s gateway to Kootenay Lake and is home to inspiring artisans and people who are a critical part of our agriculture and forestry sectors,” said Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “Enhancing internet performance and reliability in the community helps improve people’s quality of life, whether they’re learning from home, operating a business or unwinding after a long day on the job.”
Swift Internet Inc. was approved to receive up to $105,000 in funding from the Connecting British Columbia program to help improve the speed and reliability of internet access for people in Wynndel.
“At Swift, we take the responsibility of connecting our customers to the internet to heart. Pandemic conditions mean that most of our customers have more to do online than ever before – from working and schooling from home, to meeting with bankers or doctors by video conference, to staying virtually connected to loved ones,” said Kitt Santano, CEO and president, Swift Internet Inc. “Swift's boosting connectivity in Wynndel is a perfect example of how government, non-profits and internet service providers can come together to bridge the rural digital divide.”
The completion of this project means more homes and businesses in the community can access the internet at speeds that enable multimedia streaming, collaboration with colleagues online and video chatting with family around the world.
“I don’t think any business can survive without high-speed internet if they’re going to be viable. It’s so very important,” said Margaret Basaraba, co-owner of the Wynnwood Cellars winery in Wynndel. “We do most of our business on the internet – ordering, sales and processing transactions using an online app. About three quarters of our sales go through the internet that way. This summer, we’re hoping to hire a young person to help us get moving on social media, so we’re just a little more out there and people can find us easily.”
Record investment in connectivity infrastructure for rural and Indigenous communities is part of Stronger BC. Families and workplaces in as many as 200 rural and Indigenous communities will benefit from the $90-million investment to improve high-speed internet and cellular access throughout B.C. this year. Project completions are targeted for fall 2021.
- Since July 2017, projects to improve high-speed internet access are underway or completed in more than 500 communities, including 87 Indigenous communities.
- The total cost of the Wynndel project was approximately $266,000.
- The Connecting British Columbia program is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, which receives and reviews applications from internet service providers.
Connectivity funding programs in British Columbia:
Northern Development Initiative Trust: