High-speed internet opens possibilities in rural British Columbia communities
“The ability to access high-speed internet allows communities – especially those in rural and remote areas of B.C. – to have the same social, educational and economic opportunities as those in urban centres,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, at an event with the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce. “The Connecting British Columbia program closes the digital divide between our citizens and the rest of the world, and for these more remote communities, it creates the lifeline they need in order to thrive.”
The Province’s Connecting British Columbia program offers internet service providers and other organizations an opportunity to apply for grants to improve high-speed internet access in rural and Indigenous communities.
“Having reliable high-speed internet in rural areas helps emergency responders improve their service by being able to access important information promptly,” said Wayne Jasper, deputy fire chief, Anarchist Mountain Fire Department. “Technology has become very advanced, with many emergency response tools requiring online updates that can be difficult without a reliable high-speed connection. Having a reliable connection to the internet is a lifeline for emergency responders and a benefit to everyone in the communities they serve.”
The communities benefiting from this investment are rural 122 Mile House, Bouchie Lake, Cherryville, Horsefly, rural Lac La Hache, rural Lone Butte (including Horse Lake), rural Mackenzie (including the Gantahaz subdivision), rural Quesnel, Salmon Valley (including Pineview), Ten Mile Lake, rural Osoyoos (including areas near Bridesville) and Lakelse Lake.
ABC Communications Ltd. will receive $298,406 from the Connecting British Columbia program to help fund wireless network upgrades in 12 B.C. communities. The total project will cost an estimated $596,812.
“We are fortunate to have such a proactive government in British Columbia that invests in future generations and rural economies,” said Falko Kadenbach, vice-president, ABC Communications Ltd. “Connectivity requirements are continually evolving, and without these investments in rural regions, the digital divide would continue to grow in our province. We look forward to delivering new opportunities to the service areas that will be expanded through this project.”
The Province continues to welcome applications for Connecting British Columbia program grant funding. Successful applicants may receive up to a 50% contribution toward projects that improve high-speed internet connectivity for people in rural and Indigenous areas of B.C.
“This broadband investment initiative by the provincial government is a vivid example of focused, effective public policy. Upgrading an existing network in our community to LTE-advanced capability places our residents on par with their urban counterparts,” said Ron Palmer, managing partner, Osoyoos Mountain Estates, Inc. “As we move into the 21st century, reliable broadband is virtually essential to everyday life. As a result of this investment, our residents are able to stay in rural B.C. and be productive.”
Government announced the Province’s largest-ever investment in connectivity under Budget 2019. This $50-million contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program is expected to benefit approximately 200 B.C. communities.
The Ministry of Citizens’ Services also offers resources and guidance to help communities achieve their connectivity goals and maximize the benefits of improved high-speed internet service. Experts in the ministry routinely work with local governments and service providers to find solutions that best meet people’s needs. ■