CityWest has received conditional approval for $10.3 million in grants from the Connecting British Columbia program for six coastal projects (file photo)

CityWest has received conditional approval for $10.3 million in grants from the Connecting British Columbia program for six coastal projects (file photo)

Bella Coola to benefit from connectivity investments for coastal communities

CityWest will receive more than $10 million from Connecting British Columbia

A wave of connectivity investments this year will bring improved internet performance and reliability to people living in many of B.C.’s coastal communities.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves and joining with communities, First Nations and service providers to usher in a new age of connectivity along B.C.’s stunning coastline. Improvements to internet access will begin to arrive this year, unlocking opportunities for people, families and workplaces in coastal areas,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Connectivity brings the world to our doorsteps. Together, we can ensure people in coastal communities have the internet access they need.”

People in coastal communities like Cortes Island, Bella Coola, Skidegate, Zeballos and Quadra Island will benefit from faster and more reliable internet access as part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.

The Province expanded the Connecting British Columbia program in September 2020 with a $90-million grant to encourage investment in broadband and cellular infrastructure to benefit people in rural and Indigenous communities throughout B.C.

“Coastal First Nations hold the keys to transforming B.C.’s economic well-being and future,” said Christine Smith-Martin, executive director, Coastal First Nations. “As communities along the central, north coast and Haida Gwaii get connected through high-speed internet and included in B.C.’s ever-growing digital opportunities, there is a wealth of cultural wisdom, prosperity and world-renowned stewardship leadership that will accelerate our member Nations’ collective vision in building a conservation economy while protecting our environment. As ‘connected Nations,’ we look forward to working with the Province to create a better future for our next seven generations.”

Internet service provider CityWest will receive more than $10 million from Connecting British Columbia to enhance connectivity for more than 2,800 households in places like Whaletown, Granite Bay and 4 mile, as well as communities within the territories of the Haida Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Ehattesaht First Nation and Klahoose First Nation.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this opportunity to expand into some significantly underserved areas of the province, many of which will be hooked into our new undersea fibre Connected Coast project,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest. “We have heard from community leaders about how connectivity is critical to foster growth in the digital economy and navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Strathcona Regional District and communities have worked tirelessly with us to improve connectivity for people on the coast.”

CityWest is also a proponent behind Connected Coast Network, a $45.4-million investment in coastal connectivity funded in part by the Connecting British Columbia program. This ambitious project will bring a fibre-optic connection to coastal communities on Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island and between Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative, remote forms of educating students have never been more important. Overcoming connectivity limitations helps us achieve our education goals and keep students engaged,” said Sean Rogers, director, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. “We are looking forward to taking advantage of emerging technologies that rely on connectivity infrastructure. Improved internet access will bolster our research capacity to study climate change predictions in the ocean ecosystem.”

Investments in connectivity are part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, which can help coastal communities take advantage of the Connected Coast Network project. People in places like Masset, Queen Charlotte, Seaford and Bold Point will be able to enjoy a direct fibre connection to their homes when the Connected Coast Network is completed and their community is connected to a proposed landing site.

Connecting British Columbia is also helping Shaw Communications improve internet performance for people living on Mayne, Pender and Galiano islands with a grant up to $341,100 toward project costs.

“As people continue to work, learn and connect with family and friends online, having a reliable internet connection has never been more important than it is today,” said Paul McAleese, president, Shaw Communications. “Partnering with the provincial government has been essential in ensuring the residents and businesses of Mayne, Pender and Galiano islands have access to the connectivity they need to work, learn, and stay connected to friends and loved ones from their homes.”

The Province continues to welcome internet service providers’ applications to the Connecting British Columbia program’s Economic Recovery Intake. Funds from the program will benefit people in hundreds of rural and Indigenous communities throughout B.C. this year.

“B.C. has many coastal communities that can only be accessed by boat. Having a reliable, high-speed internet connection can make all the difference for people when working remotely and attending school,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “The coming improvements to coastal connectivity will make a huge difference in peoples’ lives while providing an important public amenity that can be vital for emergency response and public safety.”

CityWest has received conditional approval for $10.3 million in grants from the Connecting British Columbia program for six coastal projects. Communities benefiting from these projects include the Village of Queen Charlotte, Skidegate 1, Masset, Masset 1, Bella Coola 1, Bella Coola, 4 Mile, Granite Bay, Bold Point, Open Bay, Mansons Landing, Whaletown, Seaford, Tork 7, Zeballos and Ehatis 11.

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