The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako plans to invest $100,000 in an application process for a grant to improve internet access across the area. (Black Press Media file photo)

RDBN budgets $100,000 for internet application grant

The board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has approved a plan to spend $100,000 on a grant application for improved internet service across the area.

The application is for a Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Broadband Fund grant for millions of dollars over the course of a few years. In total, the Broadband Fund is worth $750 million.

The CRTC offers the grants to help improve internet service in remote or rural areas of the country.

The decision, made at the board’s July 18 meeting, is the latest move to try and provide faster and more reliable internet connections.

The $100,000 allotted for the application includes $75,000 for detailed engineering studies and consultant fees; $20,000 for legal fees, incorporation fees, administration costs and travel; and $5,000 for directors’ remuneration, travel and staff overtime.

The funds “will get these projects ‘shelf ready’ for the construction process and will aid in the grant application process,” as John Illes, Chief Financial Officer told Lakes District News.

That money would come out of the Northern Capital and Planning Grant, for which the RDBN received $5.8 million in late March.

RELATED: Burns Lake gets $3.4 million in infrastructure grant

In preparing the application the next step is forming a working group of staff and directors to provide oversight for the project and meet weekly for several months.

That group would also seek to form a joint venture agreement with a commercial partner that has at least three years experience in providing broadband internet.

Part of the process would involve “prioritizing smaller construction projects out of all the possible projects in the electoral areas for inclusion in the first grant intake. Example areas could be Perow, Highway 35, South Houston (Buck Flats) and Colleymount,” an RDBN document said. Engineering and logistics plans would be included for each area as well.

Some directors were not enthusiastic about the time commitment required in the grant application process.

Illes acknowledged that the application would be time-consuming.

“This could involve a lot of staff time, and additional projects that come forward after this will probably have to be held back. This could involve a lot of director time as well. After two months we’d have a better estimate of staff time and cost.”

Michael Riis-Christianson, Director of Electoral Area B said he supports the application even if it will take up a lot of time.

“In my area internet is mentioned as one of the biggest – if not the biggest – issue on peoples minds. If we’re going to participate in this new, knowledge-based economy we really need to be doing something about it.”

READ MORE: Better internet top concern for RDBN residents

The grant bid follows two previous studies on broadband expansion across the RDBN.

Sandbox Systems last year completed the “Better Broadband for the RDBN” study, which recommended building a fibre internet backbone from Prince George to Smithers and parts would branch off to serve smaller communities along secondary highways. That study cost $25,000.

TANEx Engineering is finishing up a second, more detailed broadband study for the RDBN which is expected to be released in August and estimated to cost $27,500.

The RDBN board decided last December to put on hold a $42 million proposal to expand fibre internet across the region.

LOOK BACK: $42M fibre internet expansion bid needs more study, RDBN says

The proposal will be revisited as part of the CRTC grant application process, said Curtis Helgesen, Chief Administrative Officer.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LDSS valedictorian Daria Strimbold to represent B.C. for the WE virtual grad party

The event will be hosted by comedian Lilly Singh, on CTV on June 6

Houston mill to re-open June 8

Ends lengthy shutdown which began in March

No fines issued in provincial parks over May longweekend

Activities restricted to day-use only

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

Social distancing at the skatepark — kids style

Kids in the village have taken on board this season of social… Continue reading

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read