The Ministry of Citizens’ Services announced a $50 million investment towards internet expansion into rural areas and First Nations communities. (Black Press file photo)

Government gives $50 million for rural internet

The provincial government’s recent announcement of $50 million for internet expansion for rural areas was greeted with enthusiasm by local authorities.

The Ministry of Citizens’ Services said on March 8 the connectivity investment was the largest in British Columbia history and would help link up around 200 rural and Indigenous communities.

The funding will be disbursed after applications from communities and internet service providers have been filed with the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Whittier told Black Press.

Gerry Thiessen, chair of the board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) said he is glad “to see senior levels of government understand the need [for] rural BC in making sure our citizens have full access to information. This $50 million announcement will bring rural BC one step closer to our vision for full internet connectivity.”

That vision is an essential part of the RDBN’s future, Thiessen explained.

“We want to make our region a place that people are attracted to and where people will stay. For that we need good, strong internet coverage. It’s like the highway when my parents came here in the 1940s, because that was a priority to develop the area. Today – it’s the internet, especially for young people to develop businesses.”

The RDBN board last December discussed a $42 million fibre optic internet proposal that would see the district play a “last mile” role in expanding fibre internet to homes and businesses in the district.

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

However, the proposal was put aside for the time being after the board agreed it needs more discussion.

Thiessen said the announcement of the $50 million for rural internet doesn’t affect the move to put the fibre plan on hold.

“We would revisit it again once the funding becomes clear. And after we have conversations with the internet providers.”

The RDBN chair added that the next steps will be known once the NDIT clarifies the critiera for the funding.

The criteria is still being written up and it wasn’t yet known when it would be released, said NDIT spokeswoman Holly Plato, who added that the organization was still working on committing the existing $15.5 million earmarked under the Connecting BC internet expansion program which was announced in 2015.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Routine medical check for adult canadians; what you need to know

Preventive Medicine is a proactive method of health care delivery. Its’ aim… Continue reading

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read