Sims announces funds to help connectivity in rural and remote communities

Jinny Sims
Jinny Sims

Internet service providers and other community-based organizations will soon be eligible to apply for new $16 million grant funding to improve connectivity in rural, remote and Indigenous areas in B.C., announced Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services.

“This is a great opportunity for locally driven connectivity projects that will make a real difference in the lives of people living and working in rural and remote areas,” said Sims, who is in Prince George today. “We want to make sure that internet service providers, community organizations and First Nations and Indigenous communities have access to funding that will deliver better internet to the people and businesses that need it the most.”

Beginning July 1, 2018, applications will be accepted for projects that will deliver last-mile connections to rural and remote homes and businesses. Last-mile projects are the final connections for homes, businesses and other institutions to a high-speed network.

Starting Sept. 1, 2018, this same funding will be available for the next intake period for projects that provide transport fibre lines delivering connectivity to entire regions.

“This will be a great opportunity for Lheidli T’enneh to partner up with the Province of British Columbia and Northern Development Trust to ensure that our community has an opportunity to improve and expand our internet connectivity,” said Chief Dominic Frederick, Lheidli T’enneh. “Further, this announcement will see the inclusion of all First Nations communities being able to participate and be a part of the web-based global economy.” 

The $16 million is part of $40 million committed in 2017 to expand the Connecting British Columbia program, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

An additional $83 million in funding from federal, provincial and local partners has been announced since January 2018. This funding for coastal and rural communities is expected to benefit an estimated 187 communities — including 69 First Nations and Indigenous communities.

“We are excited to soon begin accepting applications for another round of funding to connect even more British Columbians with high-speed internet that will strengthen our regional economies,” said Joel McKay, chief executive officer of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Thank you to the Province of British Columbia for continuing to support connectivity in rural and remote communities.”