Monday September 21, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Rapid expansion of high-speed internet access is part of the BC government’s effort to drive regional economic development in rural areas. That’s the direction behind an announcement today about a significant investment in connectivity in rural areas, Indigenous communities and along B.C.’s highways.
The one-time $90 million commitment is part of B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan within the Connecting British Columbia program, targeting connectivity infrastructure projects for a new Economic Recovery Intake. “Projects will quickly bring the benefits of modern internet access to families, students, workers and businesses throughout rural B.C.,” it was stated in a Ministry of Citizens’ Services news release today.
Part of the economic engine:
“Rural and Indigenous communities are an essential part of the province’s economic engine. Now is the time to invest in modern infrastructure so people living outside the city can also benefit from today’s technologies,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Citizens’ Services.
“Ensuring people have the connectivity they need to be successful is a key part of our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will bring real and lasting benefits to families, workplaces and communities throughout B.C., ensuring the province emerges stronger than ever.”
This funding will help accelerate investments by internet service providers and will be vital to restarting the economy in rural British Columbia. Work completed as part of this funding is expected to bring or improve connectivity in 200 communities, including 75 Indigenous communities, and benefit up to 50,000 households.
Fibre, satellite and Wi-Fi:
Projects supported through this funding will include technologies such as fibre, satellite and Wi-Fi to deliver a broader range of connectivity benefits to more British Columbians. It will also fund an additional 140 kilometres of highway cellular and Wi-Fi at rest stops, which could include inland ferry terminals and emergency satellite call boxes.
Northern Development Initiative Trust:
The Province of B.C. intends for this next phase of the program to be administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, which manages the Connecting British Columbia program.
Applications open October 2020:
Applications will begin being accepted in October 2020. Internet service providers must complete their projects by October 2021.
The new Economic Recovery Intake further strengthens the B.C. government’s commitment to continue to work with internet service providers to ensure that citizens and businesses have the digital infrastructure needed to help rebuild and strengthen the economy.
* The Connecting British Columbia program provides grant funding to internet service providers to build vital connectivity infrastructure, including projects to bring fibre to entire regions or make final connections to homes and businesses.
* The $90-million Economic Recovery Intake is in addition to the $50-million 2019 expansion of the Connecting British Columbia program.
* Northern Development Initiative Trust is responsible for overseeing and administering the existing Connecting British Columbia program.
* Since July 2017, projects supported through the Province’s Connecting British Columbia program are underway or complete in over 500 communities, including 87 Indigenous communities.
* Internet service providers that would like to submit an application for new transport and last-mile infrastructure builds are encouraged to apply to one of the Phase 3 quarterly intakes of the Connecting British Columbia program.
Connecting British Columbia program:
Connectivity in British Columbia:
BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/