Big bucks for broadband expansion
By Ian Cobb/e-KNOW
A host of local and neighbouring regional dignitaries were on hand in Cranbrook this morning for the announcement of $3.34 million being provided to the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC) to enable it to bring high-speed Internet service to 11,000 households in the Kootenays.
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks and Hon. James Moore, Minister of Industry and Minister Responsible for British Columbia announced that this federally funded broadband initiative will boost Internet speeds up to 10 megabits per second (Mbps). That speed is twice the target speed of the federal government’s Connecting Canada program, Moore pointed out.
Communities that will benefit from the announcement include the Elk Valley, Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Elko, Grasmere, Edgewater, Spillimacheen, Brisco, Field, Canal Flats, Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere, Wilmer, Harrogate, Parson, Wasa, Yahk, Kingsgate, Moyie Lake, Kitchener, West Creston, Bountiful, Canyon, Lister, Wynndel Sirdar, north Kootenay Lake communities, Crawford Bay, Gray Creek, Boswell, Riondel and Ainsworth Hot Springs.
Beaver Valley, Salmo, Ymir, Slocan Valley, Ross Spur, Fruitvale, South Slocan, Blewett, Harrop, Glade, Tarrys, Thrums, Deer Park, Renata, Genelle, rural Rossland and Bridesville to Christina Lake are also going to benefit from today’s announcement.
Wilks said the funding will benefit people “who live in communities with slow or no Internet,” creating access to high-speed Internet services and “lead to new economic opportunities and the creation of new jobs, products and services. This is important and exciting news.”
Moore said today’s announcement “marks the next important phase in our plan to bring the benefits of high-speed Internet to more than 280,000 Canadian households, including the Kootenays. Providing Canadians with access to high-speed Internet for learning, business opportunities and so much more is key to creating a more connected, digital Canada. It really is what’s next.”
The federal government is investing $305 million in the Connecting Canadians program that will help connect the final six per cent of the nation to the world wide web.
By Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, it is expected that 98% of all Canadian homes will be able to subscribe to new or improved high-speed Internet services, Moore said. “These are critical investments.”
Moore said the governments efforts to link the entire nation to high-speed Internet services “is what nation building looks like. There was a time when people thought it was nuts to invest in the railway. Here we are 150 years later and it is a no-brainer.”
Helping bring one per cent of that $305 million pot to the Kootenays was MP Wilks, who facilitated a meeting between the Industry Minister and a committee established by the CBBC that included representatives from four regional districts, Ktunaxa Nation, the provincial government and 12 ISP providers, Moore told the gathering in the RDEK boardroom.
After meeting with the committee, Moore headed back to Ottawa and with Wilks assistance, secured the funding because of the prepared nature of the committee.
Speaking on behalf of the Columbia Basin Trust and CBBC, Neil Muth thanked Minister Moore “for listening and delivering. There is a true partnership and collaboration behind this. This funding is an important step forward in giving over 11,000 households the ability to participate fully in the digital world.”
On hand for today’s announcement were Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair Kathryn Teneese, Regional District of East Kootenay Chair/Electoral Area C Director Rob Gay, City of Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick, City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt and councilors Wes Graham, Ron Popoff and Tom Shypitka, RDEK Electoral Area F Director and board vice-chair Wendy Booth, Electoral Area D Director Jane Walter, representatives from the Regional District of Central Kootenay Regional District (RDCK), Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Kootenay Boundary Regional District and former RDCK Chair John Kettle who served on the committee from its inception. (All pictured in lead image.)
Teneese opened the gathering with a welcome and an observation.
“I see this event today as a step toward reconciliation,” she said. “It’s up to each and everyone of us to figure out how we are going to make that happen.”
Teneese also related the Ktunaxa Nation’s efforts, dating back to 2002, to provide Internet services to its people and beyond in the region.
An initial success in those efforts was preserving and teaching the Ktunaxa language, she said.
Serving as emcee for the event, RDEK Chair Gay said today’s announcement “is excellent news. It’s really a great day for us.”