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Province gives $10.5M to get high speed internet to rural coastal B.C.

The ‘last mile’ of the Connected Coast project
Undersea cables are towed out into position. Beare’s announcement of $10.5 million in funding is for the cables needed to connect these undersea cables to homes. (Photo Baylink Networks)

Fast, always-works, won’t drop your calls internet has been promised to B.C.’s rural coastal communities with an announcement of $10.5 million in funding.

Over $45 million had already been allocated as part of the Connected Coast project, which is taking care of laying undersea cable around Vancouver Island and up the coast. This chunk of money will go towards the “last mile” of cable that brings internet out of the sea and into living rooms and offices.

Across the North Coast, Central Coast and North Island 139 communities will benefit; 25 are within the Mount Waddington Regional District and 31 in the Strathcona Regional District.

Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare made the announcement Friday over video conference, highlighting just how necessary the internet has become to our lives — “we couldn’t be here today virtually without it” — along with North Island MLA Michele Babchuk, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, the executive director of Coastal First Nations Christine Smith-Martin, and the CEO of CityWest, a rural B.C. internet service provider that’s been involved in the project from the get-go.

The new funding is part of Stronger BC, $90-million economic recovery program.

“Struggling with download speeds and unreliable connections have been the norm for people on the North Island, so I think they will be very happy with what we’re going to be able to achieve,” said Babchuk.

She thanked the Strathcona Regional District who initiated the Connected Coast project, for its foresight in noticing the need for better internet infrastructure years ago, and Zeballos mayor Julie Colborne who has been involved and pushed the project forward from beginning.

Rice, who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, said Connected Coast will give rural areas built-in redundancy so that communication isn’t lost in emergencies, as was threatened during the massive wildfire season of 2017.

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