More than 1,800 households in seven rural, remote and Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and three Gulf Island communities can look forward to high-speed broadband internet unlocking better, faster access to digital services and opportunities.
“Providing the same level of access, quality and opportunities in communities across British Columbia is vital,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Reliable, high-speed internet access for rural, remote and Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will further bridge the digital divide and bring British Columbia closer to connecting every community in B.C. with high-speed internet access by 2027.”
Provincial investments for as much as $3.8 million for high-speed connectivity expansions will build new last-mile fibre-to-the-home connectivity infrastructure, providing access to broadband internet speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads. This means access to faster, more reliable broadband internet services.
More than 600 households in Sproat Lake near Port Alberni; Forbidden Plateau near Comox Valley; and Ross Road, including approximately 2.3 kilometres along Island Highway East in Nanoose Bay, will benefit from as much as $2.5 million in provincial funding through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT). Internet service provider Telus contributed as much as $2.2 million toward the approximately $4.7-million total cost of the project.
“The Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce welcomes this initiative and looks forward to the positive impact it will have for our business community. We live in a connected world where high-speed internet services are essential to all businesses,” said Kim Burden, executive director, Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce. “The chamber is engaged in a tech attraction strategy with other Island communities, and this announcement will help that initiative to grow our Island tech community.”
People in Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Houpsitas 6 of the Kyuquot First Nation, and Winter Harbour on northern Vancouver Island, as well as the communities of Van Anda on Texada Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island, will benefit from faster internet, thanks to $4.6 million in joint federal and provincial funding that will connect more than 1,200 households.
The Province has invested as much as $1.3 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, alongside a $3.3-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund. The estimated $6.5-million total cost of the projects also includes as much as $1.2 million contributed by internet service provider CityWest and as much as $618,000 in other funding.
“We all know that internet is no longer a luxury in this day and age – it’s a necessity. Access to fast, reliable internet helps rural Canadians by levelling the playing field to access essential services, like health care and education, participate in the digital economy, or simply connect with loved ones,” said Gudie Hutchings, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development. “Today’s announcement to connect places, like Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Winter Harbour, Texada Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island, reinforces our federal government’s commitment to getting British Columbians connected, no matter where they live, by 2030. What’s more, I am happy to report that we’ve already connected 96% of the province and are well on our way to reaching our target.”
In March 2022, the Province partnered with the federal government to provide as much as $830 million to expand high-speed internet services to underserved rural and First Nations communities.
The B.C. government’s commitment to support expansion of high-speed internet services to all communities by 2027 will level the playing field for British Columbians and ensure every community has better access to jobs, education, training and health care.
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc
Government of Canada’s Universal Broadband Fund: https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/high-speed-internet-canada/en/universal-broadband-fund
Northern Development Initiative Trust: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/
A backgrounder follows.