Cable-laying ship brings better connectivity to people along B.C.’s coast

October 29, 2021 at 1:56 pm  BC, News, Politics

Nearly 140 coastal communities can say “their ship has come in,” thanks to the arrival of a vessel that will begin laying high-speed fibre optics infrastructure along B.C.’s coast.

The Connected Coast project will bring world-class connectivity to the region. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of quality, high-speed internet to learn, do business, stay healthy, access services and keep in touch with loved ones,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Through Connected Coast, people and businesses in remote and underserved communities along B.C.’s coast can stay connected and participate in economic opportunities – faster. We thank our partners, including the federal government, CityWest, Strathcona Regional District, Indigenous communities and local governments for helping to connect British Columbians to the opportunities they deserve.”

The $45.4-million Connected Coast project, announced in 2018, will bring high-speed internet transport connection to approximately 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities. The arrival of the ship marks the beginning of work to lay subsea fibre optics cable along the ocean floor to landing sites throughout coastal B.C., from Haida Gwaii to southern Vancouver Island. 

“Connecting people in rural and remote communities to the services and opportunities that high-speed internet brings, benefits us all,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island. “I’d like to thank local governments, First Nations and our many other partners who helped get us to today’s project launch. High-speed internet opens up limitless possibilities to the North Island and the entire B.C. coast, and I can’t wait to see what people do with these new opportunities.”

On Oct. 21, 2021, the ship Canpac Valour arrived in Campbell River to be outfitted and will begin laying cable up the coast toward Haida Gwaii. The project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

“The start of construction is an exciting milestone for the Connected Coast Project,” said Brad Unger, chair, Strathcona Regional District Board. “Momentum is building. Rural and remote coastal communities will soon have the same digital opportunities as urban centres. We are steps closer to benefiting from improved connectivity.”

There has been $90 million committed to new connectivity projects throughout B.C. since October 2020 as part of the Connecting British Columbia program’s economic recovery intake.

Since 2017, the Province has invested $190 million into expanding high-speed internet and cellular connectivity throughout the province. Budget 2021 committed stable funding to connectivity for the first time, ensuring these important investments will continue. Many of these projects are in progress and their benefits will be realized by rural and northern communities in the next three years.

“This event is the culmination of hard work for everyone involved in the Connected Coast project, from our funders to the project managers to the permitting team,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest. “We’re thrilled that this project is officially launching, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this huge fibre optics line will benefit the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who live along its route.”

Quick Facts:

  • Of the $45.4 million invested in Connected Coast:
    • $22 million will come from the Connect to Innovate program, a federal program to provide underserved communities with access to high-speed internet;
    • $12 million will come from Indigenous Services Canada; and
    • $11.4 million will come from the Province of British Columbia through the Connecting British Columbia program.
  • The subsea fibre optics cable will run more than 3,400 kilometres along the coast of B.C., including a link to Haida Gwaii and around Vancouver Island – one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world.
  • The fibre is protected to ensure it is not damaged and consists of glass strands about as thick as a strand of human hair.
  • When operational, hundreds of gigabits of data will stream through the subsea fibre optics cable every second.

Learn More:

Connected Coast communities that will soon benefit from world-class connectivity are included here: https://connectedcoast.ca/map

To learn more about Connected Coast, go to: https://connectedcoast.ca

For a video introduction that outlines the project, go to: https://youtu.be/CAfpeiB8vO8

To learn more about the Connecting British Columbia program, see:
https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/fundingprograms/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia

To learn more about connectivity in B.C., go to: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc

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