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Communications infrastructure funding to support economic recovery in rural B.C.

The Province will make a significant investment in connectivity to encourage a rapid expansion of high-speed internet access and drive regional economic development in rural areas, Indigenous communities and along B.C.’s highways.

As part of B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan, this one-time commitment of $90 million for the Connecting British Columbia program will target connectivity infrastructure projects for a new Economic Recovery Intake. These projects will quickly bring the benefits of modern internet access to families, students, workers and businesses throughout rural B.C.

“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.

“It is so important for people in rural and Indigenous communities to be able to connect with family, friends and businesses in the rest of the province,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness. “This funding is expected to create more than 720 provincewide jobs that British Columbians can count on to support their families and benefit communities throughout B.C.”

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.

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 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.

Quick Facts:

  • 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.

Learn More:

Connecting British Columbia program:
https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/

Connectivity in British Columbia:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc

BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/

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