boat laying cable in the ocean

500 kilometres of fibre optic cable laid

The Connected Coast is a joint communications project undertaken by CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD). They will bring high speed internet to 90,000 households in remote communities from Haida Gwaii to northern Vancouver Island. As of June 2, they have laid more than 500 of the 3,400 kilometres of the fibre optic cable needed by this project. 

They also released a series of pre-recorded videos to the media. 

“It’s going to connect 139 communities up and down the coast and these communities have been starving for internet for so long. Working in communications for the last 20 years, it’s been a really big struggle to get to communications to these small communities and they really deserve it,” said Dino Tsakonas, Regional Manager of CityWest, who lives on Cortes Island. 

“People need to be able to work from home, get healthcare from home, communicate with their relatives.There’s just so many different ways that it’s going to help everybody.” 

Map showing status of the build shows Cortes and Quadra Islands as ‘installed’ but not yet ‘in service.’ – courtesy Connected Coast

Brad Unger , Chair of the Strathcona Regional district explained, “The importance of this project for my community is huge. It’s internet coming  into our community that we’ve never had. We need this project from  Haida Gwaii down to Denman island Hornby island all the way back up around the coast to Gold River and Tahsis. Our first nations communities along the way. This project will bring internet service second to none throughout  our area.”

“I’m really excited about this project for the regional district and every community, but I’m also really excited about my own community in Gold River. We used to be a logging town, logging jobs have gone, the pulp mill has gone.  We need to reinvent ourselves. We need to do something different. Well, we need this internet speed and the connectivity to help us reinvent our community. It’s going to bring us to the next phase of livelihood in our community.” 

His predecessor as Chair, Michelle Babchuk, is now the MLA for North Island riding.  

“I’m excited today because this has been in the making for so long and there’s been so many barriers that have had to be removed. This is not traditionally a Regional District project. It’s something that regional districts have never done. So. I’m very proud to be able to work through all of those barriers to get us here today. This is going to be paramount to the rural, remote and indigenous communities who have been struggling without having this connectivity for many years, and will allow them to plug into government services like emergency management, BC Telehealth and  distance education.”

To which David Leitch, Chief Administrative Officer of the SRD, added, “We suffered to access programs. We suffered to access health programs, expand e-commerce opportunities, educational opportunities that require significant amount of broadband connectivity. As a result where we’renot on a level playing field with other centres. Regional district is really appreciative of the partnership opportunities that we’ve created and the funding opportunities that have been available through us, through the federal government, the province and the indigenous services as, without these partnerships and these opportunities, while these communities wouldn’t have the ability to move forward.”

Top photo credit: Laying cable – courtesy Connected Coast

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