The first 50 kilometres in an ambitious plan to improve internet access along the B.C. coast have been laid at landing sites across the north.
The first stretch of cable for the Connected Coast project was connected to landings at three communities near Prince Rupert: Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, and Dodge Cove. Another stretch of cable was connected to an industrial area just outside of Prince Rupert, which will connect to the main network onshore.
“This is a significant milestone for a project that’s laying the groundwork to bring better connectivity to 139 remote, rural and Indigenous communities along B.C.’s coast,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “Supporting innovative approaches to expanding connectivity has been a priority for our Government. With each successive kilometre of fibre being laid, this project ensures these communities will be able to participate in the digital economy and stay connected to their friends and loved ones.”
The $45.4 million project is a joint venture between the Strathcona Regional District and CityWest. The SRD has been working on the project for years, and construction began late last year. When complete, the Connected Coast project will provide backbone communication services to 139 rural and remote communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC Coast from Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island.
“After years of hard work and arranging permitting, we’re ecstatic to see fibre going into the water,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “We’re extremely proud of everyone who has been involved to get us to this point, and we’re looking forward to bringing under-served communities’ world-class connectivity. This is what they need and this is what we’re bringing!”
Shoreline access facilities are being built across the service area for the Connected Coast, including on Cortes Island, Kitkatla and Oona River.
When complete, the project will touch approximately 90,000 households in rural and remote communities around B.C., stretching 3,400 kilometres – about the distance from Vancouver to Ottawa. Laid in an environmentally-friendly manner on the ocean floor, it will be one of the longest coastal sub-sea networks in the world.