VICTORIA, B.C. – The province is investing in projects to improve internet and cell services in rural and remote communities as part of the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan.

Northern Development Initiative Trust Director of Communications and Marketing Holly Plato highlighted projects in northeastern British Columbia.

According to Northern Development, there are two projects to improve connectivity in the vicinity of Fort St. John that have agreements signed.

Shaw’s Connecting Canadian Communities project is installing a new transport infrastructure from Prince George to Dawson Creek.

Vincent Communications and Controls’ Northern Expansion project is a transport microwave, last-mile LTE project covering Attachie, Bear Flat, Buick, Cecil Lake, Charlie Lake part B, Kobes, Mile 62 1/2, Montney, Pink Mountain, and Wonowon.

Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare says people in rural and remote parts of British Columbia have struggled with slow or intermittent internet access for too long.

“We are taking action to ensure the benefits of high-speed internet are shared by everyone in B.C, especially those in rural and remote regions who contribute so much to our province. Our economic recovery is strengthened when we can all get online to do business, learn, and connect with loved ones,” says Beare in a release.

In September 2020, the province invested $90 million into the Connecting British Columbia program. The funding will allow for as many as 200 rural and Indigenous communities to begin projects this spring and summer.

The announcement is part of British Columbia’s $10 billion COVID-19 response, which is a commitment to protecting the health and livelihoods of people while supporting businesses and communities

The agency running the program is the Northern Development Initiative Trust. They receive and review applications from internet service providers on a regular basis.

“This is the largest funding opportunity for connectivity projects we have seen to date. In just a few years, the Connecting BC program has helped bring the benefits of high-speed internet to hundreds of communities and thousands of households across the province,” says Joel McKay, CEO of Northern Development Initiative Trust. “We are pleased to see the interest from service providers in the latest phase of the program.”

More than 500 communities, including 87 Indigenous communities, have projects underway or completed to improve high-speed internet access since July 2017, says the province.

The communities of Bear Flat, Moberly Lake, and Rolla have received letters from Telus indicating they would like to improve internet access, as a result of the Connecting British Columbia program.