By Roy L Hales
Connected Coast came to Mansons Hall, Cortes Island, on June 19. This was the seventh in a string of local consultations in which Victoria Smith, brought a team to explain how rural communities could benefit from better internet access. Cortesians were also given time to ask questions or comment.
In the Podcast
- Victoria Smith, Senior Manager Strategic Initiatives, Strathcona Regional District
- Don Sinclair, consultant from Driftwood Communications
- Colleen McCormick of Connected Communities BC, Lead Ministry of Citizens’ Services, BC Provincial Government
- What does the 3,400 km fibre optic cable, stretching from Vancouver to Haida Gwaii, offer the people of Cortes Island?
- Audio clips from Connecting Canadians – Digital Canada 150 (2015) and A New Round Of Connectivity Funding For BC Communities (2018).
- The video Connected Communities Haida Gwaii (embedded below)
- Dino Tsakonas of Twincomm talks about the last mile
(The two sections that follow are taken from the script I read out at the close of a 70-minute-long broadcast, the first 67 minutes of which mostly consisted of presentations and audio clips from three videos)
Concerns About The Project
A number of concerns were expressed. One of things that makes Cortes Island special is its remoteness, so why do people want to bring all the world’s business here? While people often talk about the internet as an educational tool, approximately 90% of the time it is used for entertainment and porn. No one knows what health issues are coming with the increased exposure to electromagnetic waves that would accompany better internet connection. Someone said she would rather be assured of good health, than risk it for a cel phone. At the moment, internet service is provided by Twincom, but larger companies may arrive after subsea fibre-optic cables reach Cortes Island. What stops them from putting up towers all over the island?
What Cortes Appreciates/Anticipates
Several people spoke in support of Twincomm and the job it has performed with limited resources.
Many wanted to know what the introduction of fibre-optic cables will mean to them personally. Some are still on dial-up. A whole new world of information and entertainment possibilities will open for them. Teenagers who now board in Campbell River while they attend high school may be able to stay home. With better internet access and programs like virtual doctor, some of the patients at the local medical clinic might no longer have to go off island.
Someone pointed out that Ester, who edits the Cortes Tideline, had to move to Victoria because of the limited internet possibilities on Cortes. A specialist in web conferences said that unless the situation improves, he will retire off island. He already owns a second house in Mill Bay, where the internet connection so much better that Cortes’ looks positively medieval. High speed internet offers young people who wish to remain on island new career opportunities.
About the Recording
I brought my little hand held recorder, which the speakers held as a kind of talking stick. This appears to have worked fairly well until we reached the question period. Background noises, like clanging silverware and the hall’s nosy air conditioning, are much louder when the speaker is anywhere from fifteen to forty feet away. You have to strain to pick out the voices. So I opted to read out a few notes instead.