From Port Renfrew to Bamfield to Sointula, Vancouver Island’s remote locations have struggled with internet connectivity.
No more, according to two levels of government.
More than 150 remote communities in B.C. — many of them First Nations and roughly half of them on the Island — will soon have high-speed internet as part of a $45.4-million partnership between the federal and provincial governments.
Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott announced Wednesday Ottawa would commit $34 million to build 3.5 million metres of subsea fibre optic cable along B.C.’s coast. The remaining $11.4 million will come from the province.
B.C. Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims said faster internet is as important to the economy today as the railroad was in the 19th century.
The internet speeds will be “comparable to cities like Vancouver,” Sims said.
The money will help connect 44 First Nations.
— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) January 17, 2018
“Working remotely will now become a reality. Coders, designers, accountants, linguists and small business people can now reach a global audience,” said Peter Lantin, Haida Nation elected president. “Transitioning away from our dependency on resource-based economy becomes a reality.”
Faster internet connections will slow the brain-drain of young people leaving Haida Gwaii that Lantin said the islands have been experiencing.
The faster connection speeds will also help the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, which monitor and protect the lands and waters on their territories, “operate in real-time.”
More than 100 watchmen patrol the coast along First Nation territories, watching for heavy vessels and monitoring emergency responses.
“They compile large amounts of data on tourism, enforcement, wildlife and cultural sites,” said Lantin.
Currently, it takes four hours to upload that information, he said, and fibre optic internet is expected to reduce that.
A list of communities receiving internet:
Mount Waddington Regional District
- Alert Bay
- Bull Harbour (Tlatlasikwala)
- Cape Scott
- Coal Harbour—ref.Quatsino IR 50633
- Da’naxda’xw First Nation
- Echo Bay
- Gwawaenuk Tribe
- Health Bay (Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis)
- Hyde Creek
- Kains Island
- Kingcome (Dzawada’enuxw First Nation)
- Mahatta River
- Mitchell Bay
- Namgis First Nation
- Port Hardy
- Port McNeill
- Rumble Beach
- Shawl Bay
- Telegraph Cove
- Winter Harbour
Regional District of Alberni-Clayoquot
- Ahousaht (ref. Marktosis 8592)
- Haggar Lake
- Huu-ay-aht First Nations
- Marktosis (+50659 Ahousaht)
- Opitsat (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations)
- Poett Nook
- Salmon Beach
- Ucluelet First Nation
Capital Regional District
- Beecher Bay
- Deep Cove
- Fulford Harbour
- Musgrave Landing
- Pacheedaht First Nation
- Port Renfrew
- Port Washington
- River Jordan
- T’Sou-ke First Nation
Cowichan Valley Regional District
- Chemainus (Stz’uminus First Nation)
- Malahat First Nation
- Penelakut (Penelakut Tribe)
Regional District of Nanaimo
- Nanoose First Nation
- Qualicum Beach
Comox Valley Regional District
- Williams Beach