Bouchie Lake, Ten Mile Lake and rural Quesnel are among 12 rural B.C. communities that will be receiving access to high-speed Internet thanks to a wireless network upgrade funded by the Connecting British Columbia program.
“The ability to access high-speed Internet allows communities — especially those in rural and remote areas of B.C. — to have the same social, educational and economic opportunities as those in urban centres,” Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, said at an event with the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce in Oliver on June 24. “The Connecting British Columbia program closes the digital divide between our citizens and the rest of the world, and for these more remote communities, it creates the lifeline they need in order to thrive.”
The provincial government’s Connecting British Columbia program offers Internet service providers and other organizations an opportunity to apply for grants to improve high-speed Internet access in rural and Indigenous communities.
ABC Communications Ltd. will receive $298,406 from the Connecting British Columbia program to help fund wireless network upgrades in 12 B.C. communities. The total project will cost an estimated $596,812.
“We are fortunate to have such a proactive government in British Columbia that invests in future generations and rural economies,” Falko Kadenbach, vice-president of ABC Communications Ltd., said in a press release. “Connectivity requirements are continually evolving, and without these investments in rural regions, the digital divide would continue to grow in our province. We look forward to delivering new opportunities to the service areas that will be expanded through this project.”
The communities benefiting from this investment are rural 122 Mile House, Bouchie Lake, Cherryville, Horsefly, rural Lac La Hache, rural Lone Butte (including Horse Lake), rural Mackenzie (including the Gantahaz subdivision), rural Quesnel, Salmon Valley (including Pineview), Ten Mile Lake, rural Osoyoos (including areas near Bridesville) and Lakelse Lake.
“Having reliable high-speed Internet in rural areas helps emergency responders improve their service by being able to access important information promptly,” Wayne Jasper, deputy fire chief of the Anarchist Mountain Fire Department, said in the release. “Technology has become very advanced, with many emergency response tools requiring online updates that can be difficult without a reliable high-speed connection. Having a reliable connection to the Internet is a lifeline for emergency responders and a benefit to everyone in the communities they serve.”
The Province continues to welcome applications for Connecting British Columbia program grant funding. Successful applicants may receive up to a 50-per-cent contribution toward projects that improve high-speed Internet connectivity for people in rural and Indigenous areas of B.C.
The provincial government announced the Province’s largest-ever investment in connectivity under Budget 2019. This $50-million contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program is expected to benefit approximately 200 B.C. communities, according to the release.