The Connected Coast project will bring new or improved high-speed internet accessibility to 139 rural, remote and First Nation coastal communities – along the BC coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island.
The impact of the project and the opportunities it will provide to these communities will be enormous. Access to reliable high-speed internet and cell phone service means that residents will be able to access online learning and health services, emergency notifications, news and participate in online discussions and sharing. It will also open new economic development opportunities for residents who will be able to work remotely and participate on e-commerce and online business development.
The project will be managed and implemented by CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD). The two organizations initially submitted individual projects but realized improved services for both areas could be attained by connecting the two networks. By providing links from Northern BC, and around Vancouver Island to the internet exchange in Vancouver, the infrastructure will increase service reliability for residents on the mainland, on the island and in rural and remote coastal communities by providing an alternate route for service, known as a redundancy.
The SRD and CityWest will work to engage and consult with local communities, regional districts, First Nations and local internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure the project meets the needs of communities now and in the future. The SRD and CityWest will also work with local ISPs, communities and anchor institutions that are interested in upgrading their local networks to allow for last-mile connections to the infrastructure.
Overall, the project will cost an estimated $45.4 million to provide 159 landing sites. The SRD will receive $32.5 million and CityWest will receive $12.9 million to construct the required high-speed infrastructure along the BC coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. Funding for the project is provided by the Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate (CTI) program, Indigenous Services Canada, and the Province of BC through the Connecting British Columbia program administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
The Strathcona Connected Coast Network Corporation has been created as a wholly owned subsidiary to oversee the construction and maintenance of the SRD portion of the project.