A push to bring high-speed internet to communities along the B.C. coast kicked off in earnest on Vancouver Island today.
The CanPac Valour, the vessel which will be laying cable for the Connected Coast project loomed in the background between Campbell River and Quadra Island as various dignitaries spoke.
“This is a project that is going to benefit every household and community along B.C.’s coast,” said Minister of Citizen Services Lisa Beare. “COVID-19 has really highlighted how important it is for us to be able to access high quality internet so we can use digital tools to help connect with loved ones, have access to healthcare and continue our education online and to do it better.
“The benefits of the Connected Coast will extend to all British Columbia by giving coastal communities and improved ability to participate in our society and our economy,” she said.
The project is to run 3,400 km of fibre optic cable around Vancouver Island and up to Haida Gwaii. The $45.4 million project will help connect 139 communities, including 48 Indigenous communities to high quality internet.
“It will affect all of our rural communities and help them engage with modern society,” said North Island MLA Michele Babchuk.
The cable itself will be laid in an environmentally-friendly way on the ocean floor, according to a Connected Coast release. According to the release, hundreds of gigabits of data will stream through the fibre optic cable each second.
“The start of construction is an exciting milestone for the Connected Coast Project,” said Brad Unger, chair of Strathcona Regional District Board. “Momentum is building. Rural and remote communities will soon have the same digital opportunities as urban centres. We are steps closer to benefiting from improved connectivity.”
The CanPac Valour will start laying the cable within the next few weeks, after it is finished being outfitted for the journey.