Applications for high-speed internet in rural communities being accepted

According to a news release that was issued by the Ministry of Citizens’ Service, local governments, internet service providers and community organizations will now be allowed to apply for grant funding to connect to high-speed internet.

The announcement is geared towards British Columbians who require it the most — those living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities that do not have readily available internet access.

“High costs are one of the main barriers to connecting communities,” said Jinny Sims, the Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This funding will support last-mile projects that will help close the gap between urban and rural areas, and allow B.C.’s smaller communities to better participate in the digital economy.”

The program, which started on July 1, is helmed by Northern Development Initiative Trust. They will be accepting applications for the Connecting British Columbia program, so homes, businesses and other institutions can connect to high-speed internet.

In addition, the news release states that funding is also available to help communities start the planning process for future developments by creating unique, regional infrastructure strategies for high-speed connectivity.

Eligible and successful applicants may potentially see last-mile projects receiving up to a 50 per cent contribution for eligible costs. Funding will also be available for improving connectivity to entire regions of British Columbia.

Applications for transport fibre projects will be accepted beginning Sept. 1, 2018. A total of $16 million is available.

“Connecting British Columbia has helped our province accelerate the growth of our digital economy,” said Joel McKay, Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO. “By leveraging funds from the private sector and other levels of government, the program has been critical in helping deliver the infrastructure projects B.C. needs to compete, now and in the future.”

Per information listed in the news release, the funding and grant opportunities comes as a part of $40 million — that was committed in 2017 — to expand the Connecting British Columbia program, which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Furthermore, the release states that an additional $83 million in funding from federal, provincial and local partners has been announced since January 2018. This further funding will reportedly benefit approximately 187 communities across the province, including 69 First Nations and Indigenous communities.

Submissions will be reviewed and assessed on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must demonstrate that their projects will be completed by March 31, 2020, according to the news release.

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