Regional district wants to improve Internet access

The Strathcona Regional District is investigating how it can bring high-speed Internet to all communities within its borders

The Strathcona Regional District is investigating how it can bring high-speed Internet to all communities within its borders.

Regional directors, at its July 8 board meeting, supported conducting a broadband capacity study to determine where the gaps are.

The board voted to spend up to a maximum of $10,000 on the study, with the money to come from the strategic priorities, general administration fund. Expanding broadband data services, as well as cell phone service, is a strategic priority for 2015 and the board has $2,000 allocated in the financial plan for that strategy.

Jim Abram, director for Quadra Island and the board chair, thanked Chief Administrative Officer Russ Hotsenpiller for bringing the issue forward at last week’s meeting.

“I’d like to congratulate Russ for doing this,” Abram said. “We’ve been discussing this ad nauseam for years now.”

According to Hotsenpiller, the study will investigate the specific limitations to high speed services in the region and identify priorities.

“At present, the SRD (Strathcona Regional District) has not developed a capacity study to understand the specific technological limitations that occur across the region,” Hotsenpiller said. “As such we do not have enough information to apply in a coordinated manner for broadband projects.”

He said without the study, it’s difficult to determine where grant monies, when they become available, should be applied.

“If we were successful and got a few hundred thousand dollars, where would that go?” Hotsenpiller said. Campbell River Director Andy Adams agreed that without identifying the lapses in service, it’s impossible to know where they are.

“If you don’t have a plan, you’re not in a position to take grant opportunities as they become available,” Adams said.

The regional district’s broadband capacity study will be similar to one undertaken by the Regional District of Mount Waddington (North Island) which provided an analysis of current capacity as well as other strategies for the regional district to work on. Hotsenpiller said the Strathcona Regional District will model its study on Mount Waddington’s but be more detailed.