BELLA COOLA – CityWest has officially started its fibre-to-the-home construction project in the Bella Coola Valley. The $4.2 million project will see the communities of Bella Coola, 4 Mile, Hagensborg, and the territory of the Nuxalk Nation connected to a state-of-the-art and future-proof underground fibre-optic network. The new network will provide world class urban style connectivity to residents and businesses of the Bella Coola Valley for decades to come.
The Bella Coola Valley fibre-optic build consists of two project phases. The first phase will see construction in Bella Coola and 4 Mile, with the second phase continuing construction throughout the Bella Coola Valley into Hagensborg. These projects are supported with up to $2.9 million in support from the Connecting British Columbia program, funded by the Province of B.C.
The Nuxalk Nation’s quest for high-speed connectivity has been ongoing for nearly a decade, with leadership investigating several different solutions. When the Connected Coast project was announced in 2018, the Nation immediately began preliminary discussions to ensure they had decision making power and a fair share of the project.
Earlier this year, CityWest and the Nuxalk Nation jointly entered into a partnership agreement, creating a new company, Snutl’yalh Communications. The company will provide last mile fibre-to-the-home services throughout the Nuxalk Territory in Bella Coola and 4 Mile. This unique partnership structure will see the company re-invest a portion of its profits into the Nuxalk Nation, while also giving the Nation decision making influence at a board level within the new company. The Nuxalk Nation have worked closely with CityWest to co-lead this project, providing each of their eligible community members with the opportunity to receive fibre-optic connectivity.
“The Nuxalk Nation is elated to co-lead this initiative to provide eligible community members with high-speed fibre-optic connectivity. Through the creation of a new partnership and company with CityWest we will achieve this goal,” said Joseph Nash, Director of IT and Project Management at the Nuxalk Nation. “High-speed connectivity will help drive the growth and flourishment of this community. We are excited to see what the future holds, the possibilities are endless! Due to its remote location, the community has been underserved with Internet for many years. We see this partnership as a way to link this community with the world, so we will no longer be experiencing the ill effects of the digital divide. As a result, we will experience a better quality of life in the place we call home.”
CityWest and Snutl’yalh Communications are working alongside the Central Coast Communications Society (CCCS) to support residents and businesses in the Bella Coola Valley to receive advanced fibre-optic services. CCCS has been instrumental in advocating for better connectivity in the Bella Coola Valley and has been providing assistance throughout the project. “We are excited to start our fibre-optic build in the Bella Coola Valley. As a company that was built in rural B.C., we’re excited to bring advanced connectivity to another remote community,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “We’re thrilled to be in partnership with the Nuxalk Nation and to be collaborating with CCCS. Our partnership will ensure that the community has ownership in and a direct say in their connectivity needs for decades to come.”
“It’s exciting to see last-mile internet connections being made in Bella Coola. This project, supported with provincial funds, will ensure homes in Bella Coola will have quick access to reliable high-speed Internet when the community is connected to Connected Coast later this summer,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. After construction is complete, the fibre-optic infrastructure in the Bella Coola Valley will be tied into the Connected Coast network later this summer. When the Connected Coast landing site has been completed, Bella Coola Valley residents will be able have their services installed by local technicians, accessing Internet with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, TV, and phone services.
About the Connected Coast
The Connected Coast is a joint partnership operated by CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District, and financed by the federal and provincial governments. The $45.4 million project received funding from the government of Canada’s Connected to Innovate program ($22 million), Indigenous Services Canada ($12 million), and the Province of B.C. through the Connected British Columbia program ($11.4 million). 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. Any resident who has not yet had the opportunity to sign-up for a fibre drop to your home, are encouraged to do so before crews get to your neighborhood. The cost is free and there is no obligation to sign-up for service. However, once construction crews leave the area, the cost of a drop is shifted to the homeowner. Sign-ups for the free drops can be found at www.citywest.ca/dropping-in.