qathet Regional District director welcomes internet funds

People in Van Anda on Texada Island will benefit from faster internet through a $4.6 million joint federal-state funding that will connect more than 1,200 homes in BC’s islands and outlying communities.

Sandy McCormick, director of qathet Regional District Electoral Area D (qRD), said Internet on Texada is a godsend.

“It depends on where you live, and sometimes it can depend on the weather, too,” McCormick said. “For example, if you live in an area like mine, I don’t have access to either Gillies Bay or Van Anda. I need to use a smart hub that works for me, but there are so many places you can’t even get a cellular signal that people in those areas can’t get a Telus hub or anything like that.

“It’s really difficult for a lot of people. Access to high speed levels the playing field so that everyone has access to the market, to the world of knowledge, to medical advice, to job opportunities – to everything.”

McCormick said it’s crucial that the internet be universally available across the island so that everyone has comparable service.

Gillies Bay has also been working to get a high speed connection. She said anything that can advance the agenda of bringing high-speed internet to everyone on the island is great news.

“High-speed internet provides our residents with access to emergency services, education, employment and basic goods and services,” qRD chief administrative officer Al Radke said in a provincial media release. “The qathet Regional District is excited about this grant funding to close the connectivity gap in Van Anda on Texada Island. Participation in the digital world is crucial to ensure community resilience. Improved internet accessibility will support improved economic sustainability for our rural communities.”

The media release said the province has invested up to $1.3 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, alongside a $3.3 million investment from the Canadian government’s Universal Broadband Fund.

“We all know that the internet is no longer a luxury these days, it’s a necessity,” said Gudie Hutchings, Germany’s Minister for Rural Economic Development. “Access to fast, reliable internet helps rural Canadians by providing a level playing field for access to essential services like health care and education, participate in the digital economy, or simply connect with loved ones.

“Today’s announcement of connecting places like Telegraph Cove, Holberg, Winter Harbour, Texada Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island reaffirms our federal government’s commitment to connecting the people of British Columbia by 2030, no matter where they live. In addition, I am pleased to report that we have already connected 96 percent of the province and are on track to meet our goal.”