From left: Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien, Coun. Joel Grenz, MP Gord Johns, the Hon. Gudie Hutchings, Elder Jim Bobb from Snaw-naw-as First Nation, Chief Michael Recalma of Qualicum First Nation and MLA Michele Babchuk. (Submitted photo)

From left: Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien, Coun. Joel Grenz, MP Gord Johns, the Hon. Gudie Hutchings, Elder Jim Bobb from Snaw-naw-as First Nation, Chief Michael Recalma of Qualicum First Nation and MLA Michele Babchuk. (Submitted photo)

$5M in funding for rural high-speed internet access announced in Parksville

Funding part of a $24.7M investment by provincial, federal governments

More than $5 million in federal and provincial funding will help bring high-speed Internet access to approximately 1,100 households on and around Vancouver Island, through seven projects with CityWest.

The funding, part of an up to $24.7-million investment, was announced by Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island, in Parksville on Nov. 25, according to a news release by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

The funding will bring high-speed internet to more than 5,000 households in B.C. rural communities.

“Access to fast, reliable Internet helps communities by levelling the playing field so they can access essential services like health care and education, participate in the digital economy, or simply connect with loved ones,” said Hutchings. “Our government will continue to work side by side with our partners to achieve our connectivity targets and ensure every Canadian, no matter where they live, has access to high-speed Internet by 2030.”

READ MORE: Faster internet speeds coming for residents in Nanoose Bay, other Island communities

As part of the announcement, $19.5 million in federal-provincial co-funding will benefit 4,000 households in the following regional districts: Mount Waddington, North Coast, Bulkley-Nechako, qathet, Columbia-Shuswap and Cowichan Valley. Details on these projects, including the specific communities to be served, will be announced at a later date, according to the release.

“Reliable, quality connectivity provides communities with access to the digital economy and to education and training, and it connects people to those who matter to them most,” Babchuk said. “Today, we are one step closer to our goal of connecting all of British Columbia to high-speed Internet by 2027.”

The funding is part of an existing agreement between the governments of Canada and B.C. In March 2022, both governments announced a partnership to invest up to $830 million to connect all remaining rural, remote and Indigenous households throughout the province to high-speed Internet.

Approximately 93.5 per cent of Canadian households have access to high-speed Internet or are targeted to receive access through existing program commitments, compared to just 79 per cent in 2014, according to the release.

— NEWS Staff

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