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Connectivity investments help seniors benefit from technology

Connectivity investments help seniors benefit from technology

June 8, 2021 at 10:11 am  BC, News, Politics

People who are looking to access online education and health care services, including seniors, will soon have high-speed internet access in Shuswap and around south Kootenay Lake.

“Internet access is so important for people of all ages, whether you’re just learning how to use a tablet or have been a computer wizard for decades. Not having a reliable connection in your community can be a major frustration,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Investments in connectivity this year are creating new possibilities for seniors in places like the Shuswap and south Kootenay Lake, where it will soon be easier than ever to video chat with the grandkids and learn about computer literacy.”

The Connecting British Columbia program will provide up to $3.07 million to Telus and Swift Internet for four projects to improve the speed and reliability of internet access in communities including Tappen, Bastion Bay, Deep Creek, Annis, Carlin, Balmoral, Bastion Bay and the south Kootenay Lake communities of Sanca, Boswell and Gray Creek.

“The Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society has been proud to help seniors learn how to use technology in a safe, approachable environment for several years,” said Thomas Briginshaw, the society’s executive director. “Staying connected to others has been especially important during the pandemic, and improved internet connections in rural areas throughout the Shuswap will help more people access services and stay in touch.”

Record investments in connectivity are a crucial component of the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan. The Connecting British Columbia program was expanded with a one-time, $90-million grant to support investments that set up more people, communities and local businesses for success in the post-pandemic economy.

“Having high-speed internet will help open many doors to computer literacy, government services and online medical appointments. It will also give families the ability to join in special events like weddings, family reunions and anniversaries from all over the world,” said Alice Hidber, president, Sunnybrae Seniors Society. “High-speed internet is unavoidable for future growth in our community. I, myself, depend on the internet, especially during this pandemic, as a form of staying connected to my family across Canada and Europe.”

The Connecting British Columbia program provides grants to internet service providers that help pay for the cost of infrastructure to improve high-speed internet access in rural and Indigenous communities.

Northern Development Initiative Trust has been the fund administrator for the Connecting British Columbia program since its inception in 2015. Northern Development is a regionally operated economic development funding corporation for central and northern British Columbia and operates independently from government.

The projects being announced today are expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.

Quotes:

Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –

“Making it easier for people and families to access important services, from education to health care and beyond, is one of the central ways we can increase well-being in our rural communities. Opening the door to online services will make life easier, will help with retention and recruitment of professionals in our rural communities, and will help people thrive as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston –

“Improved internet service creates incredible benefits and provides new opportunities, both at home and work. We are thrilled to welcome improved internet access in the region, as these investments will create lasting benefits for people of all ages.”

Tony Geheran, executive vice-president and chief customer officer, Telus –

“This partnership will ensure more British Columbians, many of whom are seniors, living in rural communities across the province have the technology they need to fully participate in today’s digital world. Bringing today’s leading internet technology to rural communities helps people succeed, whether they’re working from home or need to talk to a doctor virtually. We have also taken steps to offer low-income seniors in the Shuswap access to a program with affordable data plans and smartphones, helping to bring them closer to the things they care about and the people who matter most.”

Kitt Santano, CEO and president, Swift Internet Inc. –

“Swift is a family-owned and operated company. We care deeply about Kootenay communities and that care drives our operations. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we knew immediately that a priority for us had to be expanding our service area up along Kootenay Lake’s eastern shore. Homes and businesses there had been badly underserved for too long. It is really encouraging to see how support from Connecting B.C. and the Regional District of Central Kootenay is bolstering Swift’s own investment. We are already connecting folks in Sanca, Boswell, and Gray Creek to the Swift network. It feels great to be setting up new customers with reliable, affordable high-speed Internet and the personalized service that so many people, including local seniors, really need.”

Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust –

“The ability to connect with family members and friends, along with access to online services, is vitally important to seniors especially during a pandemic. Northern Development is pleased the Province has committed these funds to provide high-speed internet and help our seniors stay in touch.”

Quick Facts:

  • Telus will receive up to $253,620 toward the estimated $281,800 cost of improving the speed and reliability of internet access in Bastion Bay.
  • The service provider will also receive up to $2.17 million toward the estimated $4-million cost of improving internet access in Tappen, Balmoral and Carlin.
  • Telus is also receiving up to $546,055 from the Connecting British Columbia program for a project in Deep Creek and Annis that has a total estimated cost of $1.06 million.
  • Swift Internet Inc. will receive up to $74,718 toward the estimated $151,156 cost of improving internet speeds and reliability in Sanca, Boswell and Gray Creek.

Learn More:

Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc

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

Northern Development Initiative Trust:
https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/funding-programs/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia/

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