Communities around the region are benefitting from access to new or improved high-speed Internet. (Submitted)

Communities around the region are benefitting from access to new or improved high-speed Internet. (Submitted)

Over 12,000 rural households in Columbia Basin to access high-speed internet

The Columbia Basin Trust project has taken more than three years

It’s a milestone being felt around the Columbia Basin and Boundary regions: after more than three years of hard work, residents in over 12,000 rural households, in more than 62 communities in the region, will have access to new or improved high-speed Internet.

“Rural Columbia Basin and Boundary residents love their communities for many reasons, including their remoteness, but being able to rely on the Internet to connect with the larger world—and within our own region—has become essential,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust president and chief executive officer. “The new high-speed service means residents in these areas can now access resources and enjoy opportunities that increase their quality of life.”

READ MORE: Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

Columbia Basin Trust partnered with 14 Internet service providers to secure funding from the federal Connecting Canadians program, the provincial Connecting British Columbia Program and regional districts, in addition to Trust funding. From planning to implementation, the trust collaborated with a Regional Broadband Committee comprised of the regional districts of East Kootenay, Central Kootenay, Kootenay Boundary and Columbia Shuswap, and the Village of Valemount and the Ktunaxa Nation Council.

“Improving access to high-speed Internet in our rural communities was a key priority for the Regional Broadband Committee,” said Rob Gay, Regional Broadband Committee chair and Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area C director. “We’re excited to see the completion of this project and all the benefits that it brings to rural area citizens.”

The project’s $8-million budget allowed for improvements in two ways.

First, the ISPs were able to expand or improve their infrastructure, most of which is wireless.

Second, the Trust was able to expand or improve its existing fibre optic broadband network so that ISPs could better connect to it.

The new equipment now enables a download speed of at least five megabits per second to rural households with higher speeds available in most communities.

“It’s vitally important for smaller communities throughout B.C. to have reliable, high-speed access in order to grow local economies, create jobs, access education, health care, emergency services and connect with friends and family,” said Jinny Sims, minister of Citizens’ Services. “These significant accomplishments are the result of collaboration between many parties and serves as a model for other regions wanting to expand connectivity in B.C. Congratulations to everyone involved on this important achievement.”

In the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), for example, Internet service to the Jaffray, Baynes Lake and Elko fire departments has greatly improved, with more bandwidth and more reliable connections.

“The radio systems between our fire halls, as well as our radio connection to dispatch in Kelowna, are all linked via Internet,” said Dave Boreen, Elk Valley and South Country Rural Fire & Rescue Service chief. “With such a large area to protect, the new high-speed Internet gives us better communications by enabling us to link through alternate repeaters, and to have a direct radio connection to dispatch. To have reliable Internet is critical to ensure that our radio communications stay operational.”

Gray Creek resident Michella Moss is a customer of the East Shore Internet Society, one of the ISPs involved in the project. As a professional voice actor, she works on projects ranging from movie trailers to video games—and can now send and receive files more quickly with the improved Internet speeds.

“I rely on my website to attract clients, to receive auditions from my agent, and to send mp3 and wav files to clients both regionally and internationally,” she said. “I feel very blessed to be able to live where I do. I’ve made a quiet studio space without the expense required in a noisy city environment and am able to make a living doing what I love without giving up my need to live remotely.”

The trust is committed to continue extending its network and supporting ISPs and communities as they strive to improve Internet service. Learn more about all the trust’s work in broadband—one of its strategic priorities—at ourtrust.org/broadband.

Just Posted

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also… Continue reading

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read