The federal government Friday re-announced more than $17.3 million for four projects that will bring high-speed Internet to over 2,000 households in the Cariboo regional district and in Indigenous communities of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
The funding comes from the Universal Broadband Fund, which was launched in November 2020. The projects announced today were approved within six months of the formal launch of the now $2.75-billion program.Projects funded under the UBF, the Connecting British Columbia program as well as through other public and private investments, will help connect 98 per cent of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and achieve the national target of 100 per cent connectivity by 2030.
“We welcome this funding because as our recent broadband connectivity study highlighted, faster, more reliable internet service is much needed across our region,” CRD Chair Margo Wagner said. “It is crucial to the future of the Cariboo and Chilcotin that we have the connectivity needed to participate in the modern economy. Good service is also vital for our emergency response efforts. The greater our reach via electronic means, the more people we can contact when natural events such as wildfires threaten our communities.”
The Cariboo Regional District Board is considering the best way to have “essential” broadband and cellular coverage provided across the region, including asking the provincial government to step up to fund or build it. The Board started the discussions in June following the release of a report by Tanex Engineering, which found the Cariboo-Chilcotin has “a large connectivity problem” that would cost an estimated $230 million to resolve.
Although the Highway 97 corridor has decent broadband and cellular coverage, the report said, there are large tracts of highways without any cellular service.
Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, said B.C. is making “record investments in connectivity infrastructure and seeing steady progress towards a future where people in rural and Indigenous communities will have the Internet access they need to share in the benefits of digital technology.
“By working with First Nations, the private sector and all levels of government and by investing in fast and reliable Internet access, we are opening doors and giving people more options within their home communities,” she said.