The provincial government unveiled its plans Friday (March 26) to bring high-speed internet to more homes in B.C.’s coastal communities from 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, 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.
In partnership with internet service provider CityWest, Connected Coast 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 territories of Haida Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Ehattesaht First Nation and Klahoose First Nation.
Executive director Christine Smith-Martin of Coastal First Nations said the project will “bridge the digital divide” in communities and is “help an important step in the B.C. government’s commitment to true and lasting reconciliation 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.
CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District entered into a joint venture agreement in September 2020 to manage the Connected Coast project.
It is anticipated that this project will be completed at the end of 2023.
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