As it becomes safe for people to travel around the province again, investments in high-speed internet are giving local businesses in the tourism sector new ways to market themselves and rebound from the impacts of the pandemic.
“The tourism sector is near and dear to my heart, and as we begin our recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic, investments in connectivity will help many of our small businesses and rural communities bounce back stronger than ever,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Improved internet access can help strengthen the recovery of tourism-based businesses and communities. These investments will make it easier for small businesses to market themselves, while adding an important amenity people can enjoy when visiting these beautiful communities.”
Telus will receive up to $468,092 in grant funding through the Ministry of Citizens’ Services Connecting British Columbia program to bring fibre-optic internet to Raft River and the Panorama Mountain Resort, greatly increasing the speed and reliability of the services available to people and local businesses in the areas.
As well, ABC Communications will receive $176,681 in funding from the Connecting British Columbia program to improve the speed and reliability of internet connections in Horsefly.
“These days people need high-speed internet service for everyday activities,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This investment enables people to plan a trip and stay connected to loved ones. It also empowers tourism businesses to more effectively market their businesses and ensures visitors can access travel information wherever they are, whenever they need it.”
Steve Paccagnan, president and CEO of Panorama Mountain Resort, said: “Panorama is a world-class resort destination, drawing skiers and riders from around the globe to share an incredible mountain experience. Now, our community will also offer the best communication technology thanks to this grant from the B.C. government. The advanced connectivity that Telus is delivering as a result of this funding opens up greater opportunities for travel and utilizing smart technology as we work to quickly recover from the impacts of the pandemic and grow tourism in the Kootenay Rockies.”
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 community in general will be pleased if we had more capacity on our internet out here. What happens is when it’s the busy times of day, the speed slows down because everybody’s on the internet. You’re trying to do something and it will just slow down to the point where you can’t accomplish what you’re trying to do,” said Linda Bartsch, executive director, Horsefly Board of Trade. “A lot of people want to live and visit here for the nice lifestyle. Better connectivity will help us attract more people and create opportunities to grow the local economy.”
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.
This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC's Economic Recovery Plan – a commitment to protect people’s health and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and communities.
Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust –
“It is an exciting time as travel restrictions ease around the province and we are beginning to see travellers and tourists alike. The addition of fibre-optic internet to both Raft River and Panorama, along with improved service in Horsefly, will benefit these communities and the economy overall as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”
Falko Kadenbach, manager of operations, ABC-Mascon-Telus –
“These days, it’s tougher to market a small tourism business and provide guests with the amenities they expect when your community does not have high-speed internet access. We’re pleased to work with people in Horsefly and the Province’s Connecting British Columbia program to upgrade the services offered in the community. This investment will open new opportunities for Horsefly’s tourism sector to welcome families for a stay at the cottage or travelling professionals who need a reliable connection at the B&B.”
Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief customer officer, Telus –
“This partnership with government will deliver upon our collective commitment to bridge digital divides and support our province's tourism sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our PureFibre networks have supported millions of British Columbians as we adapted to new ways of living through the pandemic. For our province’s tourism sector, world-leading connectivity will help businesses operate more efficiently, market themselves to compete on a global scale and enable their guests to stay connected.”
- The Connecting British Columbia program-supported projects in Horsefly, Raft River and Panorama Mountain Resort are expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.
- Telus will receive up to $372,535 for the Panorama Mountain Resort project and up to $95,557 for its work in Raft River.
- The total value of these investments, including contributions from the Connecting British Columbia program and other sources, is an estimated $1.09 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/