One frustration for many who enjoy a rural lifestyle is the lack of reliable internet service, especially for those who can work from home.
There is good news for those who live rurally in the corridors between Kimberley and Wasa; and Nelson and Fruitvale.
Funding of $7.6 million has been secured to expand the Columbia Basin Trust’s regional fibre optic network in those corridors.
In a press release the Trust says that permitting and other pre-construction work on the projects will start soon, with support from federal, provincial and regional partners.
“Our goal is to help people throughout the Columbia Basin—whether farmers, students or home-based businesses—access the same level of internet service that they would in more populated areas” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “Developing a fibre optic network between communities is the first step of many required to improve connectivity for rural households in another ten Basin communities.”
The projects will see 70 km of backbone fibre optic cable installed between Fruitvale and Nelson, benefiting the communities of Erie, Hall, Meadows, Montrose, Park Siding, Porto Rico, Salmo and Ymir; and 30 km of backbone fibre optic cable between Kimberley and Wasa, benefiting the communities of Meadowbrook and Ta Ta Creek.
“Connecting rural communities to affordable high-speed internet service has been an ongoing vision of both the Regional Connectivity Committee and our Regional District of East Kootenay Board,” said Regional District of East Kootenay Board Chair Rob Gay. “Today’s announcement moves us one step closer to achieving this goal and is an exciting step forward for the Kimberley to Wasa corridor.”
Hans Cunningham, Director of Area G in the Regional District of Central Kootenay, stated that he is extremely pleased with the extension of the fibre backbone from Fruitvale to Nelson. “This link will provide Wi-Fi security and extra capability as it completes the tri-city loop, and will also provide high-speed Wi-Fi to the area through which it passes. It is sorely needed.”
The goal is to be finished by March 2024, subject to permitting and other factors that can impact the construction schedule. Once completed, internet service providers can connect to the expanded network to provide services to homes. In addition to bringing high-speed connectivity to underserved areas, households that already have high-speed service will see improved network performance and reduced internet downtime due to outages from incidents like accidental breaks in the fibre.
The Trust is providing a total of $1.29 million to the two projects. Other funders include the federal Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ($4.9 million through the Broadband Fund), the provincial government ($800,000 through the Connecting British Columbia program), the Regional District of Central Kootenay ($400,000) and the Regional District of East Kootenay ($200,000).
These projects, along with the 185 km of backbone currently being built in the Slocan Valley and South Country, will bring the Trust’s fibre optic network in the Basin to 1,250 km. Learn about the Trust’s work in broadband at broadband.ourtrust.org.