Rural communities in British Columbia will benefit from faster Internet

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

July 2, 2019 – Lytton, British Columbia

Canadians understand the importance of building communities. They have always invested in ways to better connect with each other-from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the national railroad system to the Trans-Canada Highway. Those investments now need to reflect the increasingly digital world.

That is why the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development, together with the Honourable Jinny Sims, British Columbia’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, today announced an investment of $18 million in three projects that will provide new or improved high-speed Internet access to eight communities, including seven First Nations, and up to nine institutions across the province.

The additional high-speed Internet projects in British Columbia are possible thanks to the top-up to the Connect to Innovate program announced in Budget 2019. As a result of this funding, residents of Bridge River, T’it’q’et, Skuppah, Boothroyd, Gitanyow, Iskut, Dease Lake and Bob Quinn Lake will be able to connect with family and friends, do business online, participate in distance education and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the digital age.

Connect to Innovate is investing in building the digital backbone of high-speed Internet networks. Backbone networks are the digital highways that move data in and out of communities. These highways carry large amounts of data that are essential for schools, hospitals, libraries and businesses to function in a digital world.

The funding announced today builds on numerous steps the Government of Canada has taken to improve Internet access for Canadians. High-speed Internet access is essential for rural and remote Canadians to thrive in the digital economy. High-Speed Access for All: Canada’s Connectivity Strategy is the Government’s plan to ensure that, over time, all Canadians will have access to affordable high-speed Internet, no matter where they live. It also commits to improving mobile wireless coverage where Canadians live and work, as well as along major highways and roads.

“Broadband Internet service is key for the prosperity of rural Canada. These projects will allow communities in British Columbia to be better connected to friends, family and businesses, as well as have better access to online services and tools. By providing better broadband connections, we are increasing the potential for economic growth and diversification and enhancing the quality of life in small and rural communities.”

– The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development

“High-speed Internet is perhaps the most important technology of our time. Whether you’re a doctor working to heal the sick, a student studying for exams, a business owner, or a first responder keeping people safe, online services make a huge difference in people’s lives. I am so pleased that Canada and British Columbia are working together to fund projects that will bring connectivity to rural and Indigenous communities. Together, we can ensure everyone benefits from the incredible advancements happening online.”

– The Honourable Jinny Sims, British Columbia Minister of Citizens’ Services

“Northern Development is pleased that funds from Connect to Innovate and Connecting British Columbia continue to bring high-speed Internet to so many deserving communities and families throughout British Columbia. This new funding demonstrates that both the provincial and federal governments are committed to improving the quality of life and opportunities for residents.”

– Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust

“This funding will help ensure reliable and affordable broadband Internet access to Bridge River, T’it’q’et, Skuppah, Boothroyd, and residents and businesses in other rural communities along a 100 km corridor of the Fraser Canyon. The project will provide a fibre optic backbone linking the core of our network from Boston Bar to Lillooet, and it will allow redundant connectivity to our partner networks in the region. Lytton Area Wireless Society is especially grateful to all who have contributed and are contributing to the growth and success of Lyttonnet, and we look forward to completing this next milestone in our growth!”

– Rod Bate, President, Lytton Area Wireless Society

“Tahltan Nation Development Corporation appreciates the confidence the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Citizens’ Services have demonstrated in supporting this important infrastructure project. This funding will enable TNDC to provide fast, reliable and advanced fibre optic communication to northwest British Columbia, transforming the lives of the Tahltan people and benefiting the many others who live and work in this remote region. Fibre optic communication will bring significant benefits, improving the delivery of health, safety, education and social services and fostering economic development, environmental protection and infrastructure development. The extension of high-speed service into the Tahltan communities of Iskut and Dease Lake, with future potential for Telegraph Creek, will enable the Tahltan Nation to benefit from the services provided in the digital age.”

– Peter Arendt, Chief Executive Officer, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC)

Quick facts

  • Of the additional $18 million investment in high-speed Internet announced today:

    • $13.8 million will come from the Connect to Innovate program;
    • approximately $3 million will come from the Government of British Columbia, through the Connecting British Columbia program and the Northern Development Initiative Trust, pending the outcome of a due diligence process and negotiated agreement with the service providers; and
    • $1.2 million will come from other contributors.
  • In Budget 2019, the Government proposed historic investments of up to $6 billion for high-speed connectivity and committed to topping up Connect to Innovate as part of this funding.

  • Through Connect to Innovate, the Government is extending high-speed Internet service to over 380,000 households and 900 rural and remote communities, of which 190 are Indigenous. Further investments will be announced shortly.

  • Rural Opportunity, National Prosperity: An Economic Development Strategy for Rural Canada outlines ways to maximize federal investments to improve the quality and resiliency of community infrastructure, create good jobs, support trade and investment, strengthen skills, and welcome newcomers in rural communities.

  • Through the $180-billion Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, Canada’s rural and northern communities are benefiting from the renewal of public infrastructure, which includes investments in roads, bridges and highways; water treatment systems; cleaner, more affordable sources of electricity; stormwater systems; and natural barriers that reduce the risk of flooding brought on by extreme weather events.

    • $2 billion of this funding is supporting infrastructure projects that meet the unique needs of rural and northern communities; and
    • $400 million is being delivered through the Arctic Energy Fund to deliver cleaner, more affordable electricity to residents living in Canada’s territories.

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