TWO NEW STRATEGIES TO ADVANCE INTERNET CONNECTIVITY IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Village of Gwa’yas’dums and the Cowichan Valley Regional District to embark on broadband connectivity plans

COURTENAY, 18 January 2022 – Two projects aimed at increasing rural and remote broadband speed will use funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s (ICET) READY Program to develop community connectivity strategies.

The Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation’s (KHFN) Village of Gwa’yas’dums currently relies on outdated technology that provides slow, unreliable internet access. A connectivity strategy is a first step towards securing much-needed investments in broadband infrastructure upgrades.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) will complete a technology assessment of the region to identify the communities with inadequate broadband speeds. The CVRD’s connectivity plan will explore options to improve access for households and businesses and enable the region to pursue last-mile infrastructure funding.  

“These are valuable projects that will strengthen pathways to essential online resources, boosting the ability of communities to attract and retain employees, remote workers, and community members,” says ICET Board Chair Aaron Stone. “Broadband infrastructure improvements are fundamental to narrowing the digital divide and ensuring all citizens can realize the full range of benefits that connectivity has to offer”

Both connectivity strategies will include a community consultation process to identify needs and wants, provide a current inventory of connectivity infrastructure, identify technology and network solutions and develop cost estimates. Once completed the strategies will provide roadmaps to guide the build-out of their unique digital landscapes.

“This project aligns with our economic development priorities and health and wellness goals,” says KHFN Chief Rick Johnson. “Access to adequate, reliable internet will open up new revenue streams and career development opportunities, and bring vital services such as training, telehealth, and video conference medical appointments to our community.”

“This process will enable underserved areas to develop their own vision and priorities for connectivity,” says Lori Iannidinardo, Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “The pandemic has highlighted more than ever that bandwidth and internet speed are crucial components of healthy, livable, and efficiently-serviced communities.”

These projects are timely as new opportunities in the Island/Coastal Region are imminent. By 2023, the Connected Coast project is expected to deliver fibre-optic cable to numerous underserved areas. However, Connected Coast does not include last-mile infrastructure. Also, both federal and provincial governments have prioritized improved last-mile connectivity for rural areas, and opportunities to obtain funding are expected to remain available over the next few years. 

Work on both projects is expected to get underway shortly.

Both projects are supported through ICET’s READY – Capacity Building Program under the Broadband strategy funding stream. For more information about the READY Program, please see our guidelines and application form: www.islandcoastaltrust.ca

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About the Island Coastal Economic Trust
Created and capitalized by the Province of BC in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) mission is to create a more diverse and globally competitive Island and Coastal economy. In partnership with local and regional governments, non-profits and Indigenous communities, ICET serves over half a million residents. Funding and support for economic infrastructure and other economic diversification initiatives is delivered through a unique community centered decision-making process. Since inception, ICET has approved more than $55 million in funding for over 280 initiatives. These investments have leveraged over $270 million in new investment into the region creating more than 2600 construction phase jobs and 2750 long-term permanent jobs. 

For further information:
Hilary Muth, Communications Coordinator
Island Coastal Economic Trust
Tel. 250-871-7797 (Ext. 228)

ICET By The Numbers

2,500
person years employment created (construction phase)

ICET By The Numbers

50
locally elected officials and MLAs working together

ICET By The Numbers

$10.4
million annual provincial government revenue generated

ICET By The Numbers

2,750
post completion jobs created

ICET By The Numbers

$4.6
dollars leveraged for every ICET dollar invested

ICET By The Numbers

$246
million leveraged into the region

ICET By The Numbers

$52.3
million disbursed

ICET By The Numbers

$55.2
million committed

ICET By The Numbers

230
economic development projects

ICET By The Numbers

210
projects completed

ICET By The Numbers

36%
projects in small (less than 5,000) communities

ICET By The Numbers

50+
communities with ICET projects

2020-2021
ANNUAL REPORT

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