One of the highlights of Budget 2015 unveiled last month was our commitment to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to more people in rural and remote areas of B.C.
In fact, our goal is to see every British Columbian, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed Internet by 2021 – and we will work with other levels of government and the private sector to make this happen.
Under our 10-year, $1-billion agreement with Telus, we have already seen bandwidth upgrades in the Fraser-Nicola communities of Clinton, Lytton and Gold Bridge.
We are also continuing to connect B.C.’s First Nations at a steady pace. To date, 184 of B.C.’s 203 First Nations communities now have access to broadband infrastructure and we are working to see all 203 connected by the end of fiscal year 2016-17.
In the Ashcroft-Cache Creek-Spences Bridge area to date, the Ashcroft, Bonaparte, Skeetchestn, Cooks Ferry, Oregon Jack and Lytton First Nations have Internet access.
This is made possible through Pathways to Technology, a $48.8-million federal/provincial project designed specifically to connect First Nations communities to the Internet.
For people in the riding who live along Hwy 97, it is worth noting that our agreement with Telus has resulted in new service being added to 258 kilometres along Hwy 97 over the past five years.
Connecting people in rural and remote areas to high-speed Internet service helps level the playing field with people in urban areas.
What does high-speed Internet access mean to people in rural and remote areas? Not only does it connect families, but it also improves access to educational opportunities and health-care services, creates jobs, and expands markets for businesses – connecting local firms to domestic, national and global customers.
Our government believes all residents of Fraser-Nicola should be able to share the rich potential for economic, educational and social benefits high-speed Internet access can bring. And rest assured we are going to make it happen.
Jackie Tegart, MLA