The provincial government unveiled its plans Friday (March 26) to bring high-speed internet to more homes in B.C.’s coastal communities with a series of infrastructure investments.
The $45.4-million Connected Coast project is part of B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan, which saw $90 million allotted in September. It will connect 139 communities – 48 being rural and Indigenous – to fast and reliable internet.
Construction is slated to start this summer on the infrastructure, said Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare during the Zoom press conference.
The project will see internet service provider CityWest will connect communities to a subsea fiber-optic network running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, to the Sunshine Coast and around Vancouver Island.
Residents on Cortes Island, in Bella Coola, Skidegate, Zeballos and Quadra Island will be included.
CityWest CEO Stefan Woloszyn said, “connectivity is critical to foster growth in the digital economy and navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The company is receiving an additional $10 million to enhance connectivity for more than 2,800 households in Whaletown, Granite Bay and 4 mile as well as communities in Haida Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Ehattesaht First Nation and Klahoose First Nation.
Director Christine Smith-Martin of Coastal First Nations said the project will “bridge the digital divide” and is “an important step in B.C.’s commitment to true and lasting reconciliation” with First Nations people.
“Once the fiber is laid it will help people with business opportunities and download speeds they need to build into the future,” added North Island MLA Michelle Babchuk.
In September, CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District entered into a joint venture agreement to manage the Connected Coast project.
It is anticipated the project will be completed by the end of 2023.
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