PRINCE RUPERT – The Connected Coast project hit a milestone this week, as the first 50 kilometres of fibre-optic cable was laid at landing sites across Northern B.C.
The fibre was laid and connected at shore landings at three communities: Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, and Dodge Cove. Another leg was brought ashore at Ridley Island, an industrial area just outside of Prince Rupert, which will connect into CityWest’s main network.
“This is a significant milestone for a project that’s laying the groundwork to bring better connectivity to 139 remote, rural and Indigenous communities along B.C.’s coast,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “Supporting innovative approaches to expanding connectivity has been a priority for our Government. With each successive kilometre of fibre being laid, this project ensures these communities will be able to participate in the digital economy and stay connected to their friends and loved ones.”
When complete, the Connected Coast project will provide backbone communication services to 139 rural and remote communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC Coast from Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. Financed by the federal and provincial governments, the $45.4 million project is a joint partnership operated by CityWest and Strathcona Regional District.
“After years of hard work and arranging permitting, we’re ecstatic to see fibre going into the water,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “We’re extremely proud of everyone who has been involved to get us to this point, and we’re looking forward to bringing underserved communities world-class connectivity. This is what they need and this is what we’re bringing!”
Before the fibre-optic cabling was laid in the water, shoreline cabinets were constructed in each of the communities: this is the access point for each community, where their local network connects to the subsea network.
And this first 50 kilometres is just the beginning. Over the next few weeks, weather permitting, the project team will lay more subsea fibre-optics to other Northern communities, like Kitkatla and Oona River, before going westward to Haida Gwaii. The construction project team will then move down to the southern areas of the network off the east coast of Vancouver Island.
When complete, the project will touch approximately 90,000 households in rural and remote communities around B.C., stretching 3,400 kilometres – about the distance from Vancouver to Ottawa. Laid in an environmentally-friendly manner on the ocean floor, it will be one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world.