$42M fibre internet expansion bid needs more study, RDBN says

A proposed project to expand fibre internet connectivity throughout the region needs more discussion before it can be implemented, local authorities say.

The board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) decided in a meeting in Burns Lake on Dec. 13 that more details of the $42 million project need to be ironed out.

As part of the RDBN’s Strategic Connectivity Plan, the proposal calls for the district to perform a “last mile” role in providing fibre internet to densely populated rural centres and join with a company to connect homes and businesses to the fibre network.

Last March the provincial Ministry of Citizens’ Services announced that it would give $1.9 million to CityWest Cable and Telephone Corp. to enhance high-speed internet service for the RDBN.

RELATED: Faster internet coming to rural areas in northern B.C.

Dividing the project’s total cost of $42 million by the number of households in the area, the board said the initial bill would cost about $4,500 per household.

Money for the fibre project has several possible sources including grant funding, gas tax revenues and district taxes.

Most directors concurred the plan has merits, but Rob Newell, director of Electoral Area G (Houston rural) said a financial analyst should examine it further, and Telkwa mayor Brad Layton said the district shouldn’t rush into it.

The board agreed that it will wait for a strategy report from the Sandbox organization on the connectivity proposal before proceeding.

A draft of the report is expected to be ready in January.

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