People and local businesses in the Bridge River Valley can look forward to faster and more reliable internet access this fall, thanks to an infrastructure project underway with grant funding from the Connecting British Columbia program.
“Improving people’s quality of life is at the heart of what we do at the Ministry of Citizens’ Services. For people in a region where attending college classes or a medical appointment can require driving for several hours, having better internet that will allow them to connect with school or medical services virtually will be a great advantage,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “These communities are taking these challenges head on. We are proud to support a non-profit, locally operated internet service provider to bring new levels of prosperity and convenience to the Bridge River Valley.”
Minto Communications Society, a local non-profit internet service provider, has received a grant of up to $1.51 million from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services Connecting British Columbia program. The funding is to improve internet speeds and reliability for people in the Bridge River Valley communities of Goldbridge, Bralorne, Gun Lake, Gun Creek Road and Tyaughton Lake.
“The Bridge River Valley is remote. We have home-based businesses, tourism operators and industry scattered throughout our communities and neighbourhoods. They all require reliable internet connections and improved bandwidth,” said Sal DeMare, Area A director with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. “The improved connectivity and bandwidth service will help with online platforms for health appointments, medical information, financial services, work, distance education, business, video conferencing and social connections.”
Upgrades to Minto Communications Society’s network serving the people of Bridge River Valley are expected to help the non-profit service provider improve service speeds and data limits, add more customers and expand into new areas in the 300-square-kilometre service region.
“High-speed internet has become an essential service for residents and businesses to access distance education, business platforms, videoconferencing and telemedicine,” said Bob Calbick, director, Minto Communications Society. “We are very grateful to receive funding from the Connecting British Columbia program to improve internet services in the Bridge River Valley. This will significantly enhance the quality of life for people in the region and allow them to actively participate in all the potential the digital world provides.”
As part of the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan, people in rural and Indigenous communities throughout the province are benefiting from record investments to improve high-speed internet and expand cellular access along provincial highways.
“Having the Province team up with a local internet service provider to benefit people is a great feeling and an example of what we can do when we work together,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “Making peoples’ lives better through faster internet services for things like health, education and recreation possibilities benefits everyone and helps showcase this beautiful area of B.C.”
In September 2020, the Province made its largest ever contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program, with $90 million of new funding under the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan.
“The Bridge River Valley Community Association has been a community partner of Minto Communications for 10 years and we have watched the growth and development of the society as a community internet service,” Pat Dahle, president, Bridge River Valley Community Association. “We are very proud and excited that this community-run internet society is making such great strides in providing internet service in this remote, rural area. The enhanced speed and bandwidth that this funding will facilitate is going to make a significant contribution to the sustainability of this community in the future.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust has been the fund administrator for Connecting British Columbia since its start in 2015. Northern Development is a regionally operated economic development funding corporation for central and northern British Columbia and operates independently from government.
“The Bridge River Valley is full of recreational and tourist opportunities, which can only be enhanced with improved internet services,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The people who live in the valley and the businesses that operate there deserve to have reliable connections that will help to grow the economy and improve social and educational services.”
This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes the StrongerBC recovery plan, a commitment to protect people’s health and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and communities.
Work on the Bridge River Valley internet upgrades is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.
- The Bridge River Valley is located approximately 300 kilometres north of Vancouver, 100 kilometres west of Lillooet.
- Internet users in the region are currently limited to 5mbps download/1mbps upload speeds on a network that depends on legacy radio systems.
- People in the Bridge River Valley will soon be able to access the internet at the speeds targeted by the federal government and the CRTC (50/10).
- The total value of the project, including contributions from the Connecting British Columbia program and other sources, is approximately $1.85 million.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/