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Faster internet for people on Haida Gwaii, Texada Island

People living on Texada Island and Haida Gwaii are getting faster and more reliable internet access.

The province says this is thanks in part to grants from the Connecting British Columbia program.

“People in Gillies Bay on Texada Island will see improved internet speeds, thanks to the work of volunteers in their own community,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. 

“This project, supported by a grant from the Connecting British Columbia program, is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when communities, service providers, the Province and people volunteering their time are all driven and working together to improve people’s lives.”

The program will provide up to $202,556 to the Gillies Bay Internet Society to improve internet speeds and reliability. 

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The society is a non-profit internet service provider established by local volunteers to bring wireless internet access to Gillies Bay and the surrounding area on Texada Island.

“For the last year, rural areas like Texada Island have become more popular with people who are looking to move out of the city,” said Brian Seymour, chairman of the Gillies Bay Internet Society. 

“However, people only want to move to locations with fast, reliable internet, so that they can work from home or start an online business. The ability to function online is also essential for remote schooling, shopping and for staying connected with family and friends.”

Work on the project is expected to be completed in August.

“It’s nice to have a reliable internet connection, so I don’t have to run down to the fire hall and deal with a computer down there. I can do a lot of my work from home,” said Rob McWilliam, Gillies Bay fire chief. 

“As a firefighter, I use the internet a lot to communicate with my members from my computer at home, as well as all of our extended contacts with the regional district and B.C. government. I also get a lot of videos for training purposes. I’m looking forward to the improved reliability, and extra speed won’t hurt either.”

Grants from the Connecting British Columbia program are also helping to fund improvements on Haida Gwaii. 

CityWest will receive up to $853,435 for two projects to improve internet speeds in the communities of Tow Hill, Tlell, Nadu and Dead Tree Point.

“We’re grateful for this financial support from the Province, and for the support shown to this project by the local communities on Haida Gwaii. When you improve Internet services in a community, you also improve the lives of the people who live there,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO, CityWest. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of solid and reliable internet services, especially in rural and remote communities, and we’re looking forward to serving customers on Haida Gwaii.”

In September 2020, the Province made its largest-ever contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program, with $90 million in new funding under StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. 

This has provided grant funding to improve broadband services for people in more than 224 rural communities, including 84 Indigenous communities. These grants have also helped fund projects to expand cell service along an additional 429 kilometres of B.C. highways.

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