People living on Texada Island and Haida Gwaii will soon have faster and more reliable internet access, thanks in part to grants from the Connecting British Columbia program.
“People in Gillies Bay on Texada Island will see improved internet speeds, thanks to the work of volunteers in their own community,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This project, supported by a grant from the Connecting British Columbia program, is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when communities, service providers, the Province and people volunteering their time are all driven and working together to improve people’s lives.”
The Connecting British Columbia program will provide up to $202,556 to the Gillies Bay Internet Society to improve internet speeds and reliability. The society is a non-profit internet service provider established by local volunteers to bring wireless internet access to Gillies Bay and the surrounding area on Texada Island.
“For the last year, rural areas like Texada Island have become more popular with people who are looking to move out of the city,” said Brian Seymour, chairman of the Gillies Bay Internet Society. “However, people only want to move to locations with fast, reliable internet, so that they can work from home or start an online business. The ability to function online is also essential for remote schooling, shopping and for staying connected with family and friends.”
People in Gillies Bay can expect improved internet speeds and reliability this summer as work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.
“It’s nice to have a reliable internet connection, so I don’t have to run down to the fire hall and deal with a computer down there. I can do a lot of my work from home,” said Rob McWilliam, Gillies Bay fire chief. “As a firefighter, I use the internet a lot to communicate with my members from my computer at home, as well as all of our extended contacts with the regional district and B.C. government. I also get a lot of videos for training purposes. I’m looking forward to the improved reliability, and extra speed won’t hurt either.”
Grants from the Connecting British Columbia program are also helping to fund improvements on Haida Gwaii. CityWest will receive up to $853,435 for two projects to improve internet speeds in the communities of Tow Hill, Tlell, Nadu and Dead Tree Point.
“We’re grateful for this financial support from the Province, and for the support shown to this project by the local communities on Haida Gwaii. When you improve Internet services in a community, you also improve the lives of the people who live there,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of solid and reliable internet services, especially in rural and remote communities, and we’re looking forward to serving customers on Haida Gwaii.”
In September 2020, the Province made its largest-ever contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program, with $90 million in new funding under StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. This investment has provided grant funding to improve broadband services for people in more than 224 rural communities, including 84 Indigenous communities. These grants have also helped fund projects to expand cell service along an additional 429 kilometres of B.C. highways.
“Investments in connectivity for B.C.’s rural communities are helping to build our community vibrancy and economic strength by ensuring people throughout the province can access tomorrow’s opportunities for business, education, job training and access to services,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “Reliable and fast internet connectivity is the backbone of the digital economy. These investments help support our commitment to building an economy that works for everyone in B.C.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust has been the fund administrator for the Connecting British Columbia program since its inception in 2015. Northern Development is a regionally operated economic development funding corporation for central and northern British Columbia and operates independently from government.
“Gillies Bay and the surrounding area will see a huge benefit with more improved reliable internet service, not only for the locals, but for the influx of tourists during the summer season,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Fast and secure internet is key to staying connected all across British Columbia, and the trust is pleased to see so many of our rural communities reaping the benefits of the program.”
This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC, a commitment to protect people’s health and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and communities.
Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, and MLA for North Coast –
“Fast and reliable internet is vital for work, school and the islands’ tourism economy. Investing in improved community networks for coastal communities like Tow Hill and Tlell on Haida Gwaii is an important step forward on our goal to ensure people in coastal communities have the internet access they need.”
Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast –
“Texada Island and Gillies Bay are home to incredible people who look out for each other’s interests. The Gillies Bay Internet Society is a great example of their spirit, taking on the challenge of connecting their friends and neighbours to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. I’m pleased the Connecting British Columbia program is getting behind their work to upgrade these services in the community.”
- CityWest will receive up to $519,327 toward the total estimated $617,519 cost of upgrading internet service in Tlell, Nadu and Dead Tree Point.
- CityWest will also receive up to $334,108 for the project in Tow Hill, which has a total estimated cost of $395,920.
- The Connecting British Columbia program will provide up to $202,556 toward the total estimated cost ($246,416) of upgrading internet service for people in Gillies Bay.
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: