CityWest Fibre-to-the-home Construction Begins in Skidegate

Aug 09, 2022

SKIDEGATE – It’s exciting times as CityWest officially continues to build fibre-to-the-home infrastructure on Haida Gwaii. The first stage of construction in Masset and Old Massett has been completed, and crews have now moved south to Skidegate.

This week, construction crews will begin building this state-of-the-art and future proof underground fibre-optic network, which will provide world class urban style connectivity for decades to come.

The $3.14 million last-mile project, which includes both Skidegate and Daajing Giids, is supported by up to $2.17 million from the Connecting British Columbia program, funded by the Province of BC. The infrastructure in Skidegate is part of a total investment of approximately $7.7 million to bring last-mile fibre-optics to residents of Haida Gwaii. The infrastructure on Haida Gwaii will be supported by the $45.4 million Connected Coast project, providing reliable backbone fibre-optic infrastructure to deliver services.

Last October, CityWest, The Council of the Haida Nation, Skidegate Band Council, and Old Massett Band Council jointly announced a partnership agreement to connect each of their communities to a world-class fibre-to-the-home network. The partnership saw the creation of a new company, CityWest Haida Communication Corp. This unique partnership agreement structure will see the company re-invest of a portion of its profits directly into Haida communities, while also giving community members more influence over their connectivity needs.

“The infrastructure being built in Skidegate, along with the Connected Coast’s fibre-optic backbone, will provide our community with faster, more reliable services,” said William Yovanovich, Chief Councillor at the Skidegate Band Council. “This new fibre-optic network brings more opportunity for growth in Skidegate, while providing our community with direct financial benefits through our partnership agreement with CityWest.”

“We are thrilled to see the progress being made on Haida Gwaii. Beginning construction in Skidegate is another great milestone in our plan to bring better connectivity to the communities,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “To that extent, we are honoured to deliver these services in partnership with The Council of the Haida Nation, Old Massett Band Council, and Skidegate Band Council.”

“We are moving toward a future where people in remote areas like Haida Gwaii can have the same level of high-speed connectivity as urban centres. The start of last-mile construction in Skidegate is an important step in that direction,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Our government is pleased to be able to help fund this project. Access to world-class broadband connectivity will improve the lives of residents in B.C.’s coastal communities with easier access to jobs, education, training and a wider range of economic opportunities.” 

Earlier this month, the Connected Coast project arrived in Haida Gwaii after 87 kilometres of fibre-optic cable stretching across the Hecate Strait was laid from Bonilla Island to Tlell. With the subsea cable now in place, network commissioning and site activation activities will take place over the coming months to bring the Tlell landing site online.

Once the Connected Coast landing site in Tlell has been activated, the fibre-optic infrastructure in Skidegate will be tied into the Connected Coast’s network, providing an entirely fibre-optic connection directly from CityWest’s network to residents and businesses in Skidegate.


About the Connected Coast project

The Connected Coast project is a joint venture between CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District. 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.

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.