The Strathcona Regional District is located in the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-Chah-nulth traditional territories.
Today, Strathcona Regional District (SRD) and CityWest are announcing the launch of fibre-to-the-home technology to residents in Tahsis, Gold River, Quadra Island, Zeballos, Ehattesaht First Nation, Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations, Walters Cove, Sayward Valley and Sayward. This will enable residents access to high speed internet.
The SRD communities of Zeballos, Ehattesaht First Nation, a portion of Quadra Island, and Cortes Island were awarded last-mile grant funding through the Connecting British Columbia Program. Last mile construction in Cortes Island neighbourhoods and the Klahoose First Nation is in progress; crews will continue throughout the SRD over the summer and fall.
Funding for the construction of this infrastructure in the communities of Tahsis, Gold River, Sayward, the Sayward Valley and a portion of Quadra Island is sourced through an SRD borrowing partnership with CityWest. This financing was necessary because these communities were considered ineligible for grant funding. Communities receiving internet services above the minimum federal standard of 50Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps download speed are not eligible for grants. Data from internet service providers show residents have access to the minimum 50/10 Mbps service, however, speed tests conducted in numerous communities indicated that upload/download speeds were considerably lower than the federal standard. In partnership, CityWest will cover the cost of debt payments for the infrastructure and will operate the network, providing high speed internet, cable television and telephone services.
As part of the partnerships with CityWest, each community or electoral area has invested in the last mile infrastructure and will be a part-owner in the community network. This shared ownership will result in an annual 20% return of profits to the community.
Last mile fibre to the home infrastructure will plug into the Connected Coast Network to deliver high-speed internet equivalent to speeds available in urban centres.
New federal and provincial connectivity funding opportunities were announced last week. CityWest and the SRD will continue to work with First Nations and local communities to develop partnerships and pursue opportunities for last-mile infrastructure.
“We are excited to see boots on the ground constructing this valuable infrastructure that will allow SRD communities access to high-speed internet. This investment will help us to reinvent our small communities, improve their livelihood and improve residents’ ability to participate in education, e-commerce and health programs,” said SRD Chair Brad Unger.
Once the Connected Coast Network landing meets the last mile infrastructure, residents in these communities will be able to access true high-speed Internet services – far more than the recommended 50/10 threshold set by the Government of Canada.
“Our focus within the SRD is bringing the standard of internet up to what it should be, so that rural communities are served as well urban communities,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “We are future-proofing access to the internet with the use of fibre technology and ultimately creating equal opportunities for rural and remote British Columbians.”
This expansion will provide service to residents through the Connected Coast project, a subsea fibre network that will bring high speed internet to communities and provide customers with a future proof technology directly to their home. When finished, the Connected Coast project will run over 3,400 kilometres along the coast of BC, including a link to Haida Gwaii, the Vancouver Internet Exchange and circumnavigate Vancouver Island – one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world.
As part of the last mile build, CityWest is launching its “Dropping In” campaign, encouraging residents to sign up for a fibre optic cable drop installed directly to their homes. Signing up for a drop connection is free but must be done before construction is finished. If a connection is requested after the initial construction is completed, there will be an installation charge for the connection to a building. There is no obligation to become a CityWest customer.
For more information and frequently asked questions about the ‘Dropping-In’ campaign, please visit www.citywest.ca/dropping-in.