Fibre optic internet connectivity is officially on its way to the remote Tahltan communities of Dease Lake and Iskut.
A partnership between the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) and Citywest broke ground on the $13 million project this morning (May 31).
The partnership, dubbed Tahltan Communications (TC), will run more than 200 kilometres of new fibre optic cable in unison with fibre optic strands that are part of the BC Hydro Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) according to a TNDC press release.
“Rural communities throughout Canada continue to go without fast and reliable internet connectivity,” said Paul Gruner, TNDC CEO. “That is about to change in Tahltan Territory, which is a region that accounts for 11 per cent of British Columbia. TNDC’s partnership with CityWest is a game-changer and will deliver on our key strategic priority to become a telecommunication provider of high-speed internet connectivity to Tahltan communities and those doing business in Tahltan Territory.”
The partnership expects to provide highspeed, gigabit connectivity to communities by early 2023, which the release said will improve all aspects of life for people in the community including healthcare delivery, safety, education and social services and will foster economic development, environmental protection, and infrastructure development.
The project received $9.6 million in federal and provincial funding through Canada’s Connect to Innovate Program and the province’s Connecting B.C. program.
“What we have come to realize in this process is that we have the same set of primary values, starting with a focus on creating benefits first and foremost,” said Stefan Woloszyn, Citywest CEO. “As a social enterprise, we are excited about our future together, and we are grateful to the province and the federal government for their support.”
Lisa Beare, B.C.’s minister of citizens’ services, said the province’s involvement in the project is part of her government’s commitment to ensure all households in British Columbia have high-speed internet access by 2027.
“We need to close the connectivity gap and ensure that every nook and cranny of British Colombia has access to reliable high-speed Internet,” said Gudie Hutchings, federal minister of rural economic development.
The funding is part of a $585 million commitment by the Liberal government to bring better connectivity to underserved communities by 2023.