Faster internet coming to rural areas in northern B.C.

Provincial and federal funding announced for 33 communities

Areas of northern British Columbia will soon have faster internet services.

The Ministry of Citizens’ Services yesterday (Mar. 13) announced more funding for expanding high-speed internet across the north.

Shaw Communications received $7 million for fibre-optic cable along Highway 97 between Prince George and Dawson Creek, as well as $1.9 million for fibre-optic cable along Highway 99, between Whistler and Cache Creek.

The province also contributed $1.9 million to CityWest Cable and Telephone Corp. for the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, and $400,000 to Gwaii Communications for communities on Haida Gwaii.

“This is not just an investment in high-speed internet, it’s an investment in the future for those living in rural, First Nations and Indigenous communities, so they have access to cutting-edge emergency services, high-quality health care, world-class education and improved ability to participate in the growing digital economy,” said Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims.

“By working with our federal and local partners, we are leveraging relationships to give people in these communities the same internet access as those living in major urban centres.”

The northern B.C. funding was announced as part of an event hosted by Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, as the federal government committed a further $19,748,063 to these four projects, plus a fifth project with the Sts’ailes Band. The federal funding for five projects is through the federal Connect to Innovate program.

In total, with federal and provincial funding, these five projects will receive $38,265,697 as local partners contribute an additional $7,151,757.

Thirty-three B.C. communities, including 13 Indigenous communities, will benefit from this partnership.

“We are pleased to see British Columbia and its partners moving swiftly to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to communities across the province,” said Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Joel McKay.

“Connecting communities with limited or non-existent internet access provides a swift and substantial boost to regional economies.”

The statement did not indicate when work on the expansion will begin.

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