The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako is going into a partnership agreement with CityWest in a key step in developing high-speed connectivity solutions in the region.
“The Regional District and CityWest Partnership will enable us to work mostly towards connectivity solutions for residents in rural areas, while collaborating with our member municipalities. Our goal is that all residents will have access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet that meets or exceeds the minimum standards for essential service (currently defined as 50Mbps download and 10Mbps upload),”said, Nellie Davis, the manager of regional economic development for the RDBN.
The regional district has been in several discussions with stakeholders, over the past years to improve connectivity in the region. Michael Riis-Christianson, RDBN Connectivity Committee Chair said in a news release issued by the board that access to reliable cellular telephone and broadband internet services is crucial in today’s world.
“Without it, residents of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako cannot participate in today’s digital economy, easily access government services, or obtain information in the event of an emergency.”
The news release further said that the rapid spread of COVID-19 highlighted the drastic inequality of access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet for rural communities and multiplied the urgency for increased online availability of service delivery. Quick action is required to address the lack of broadband infrastructure in both our municipalities and electoral areas.
“Bringing this coverage means that rural residents will have reliable access to virtual health, education and social services via online platforms, as well as increasing the capability for communication and access to information in an emergency event,” said Davis.
The RDBN is also hoping that improved connectivity will help improve health, education, and social outcomes for all the regional district’s residents.
“This connectivity infrastructure will also support economic development and social opportunities through resident retention and attraction, increased opportunities for entrepreneurs while ensuring that rural residents have the same access to opportunities as residents in urban centers,” she added.
No timeline has been established yet on how the project would be rolled out or when. Davis said that due to the large geographic scope of the region it won’t be possible to roll-out service for all residents at the same time, but the RDBN directors and staff were working with CityWest to create a connectivity strategy to build service areas over time until all residents have access to the minimum standard.
“Our shared philosophy of ‘No home left behind’ is reflective of the approach we are taking in the development of this exciting partnership. We are incredibly optimistic about the opportunities that will be created to provide our residents with reliable, affordable internet and cellular connectivity,” said Gerry Thiessen, RDBN Board Chair in the news release.