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Funding boost for rural high-speed internet

Gillies Bay and Lasqueti Island receive assistance forbr high-speed connection

An initiative by the provincial government to help bring high-speed Internet service to rural communities in BC will see money going to Lasqueti Island and Gillies Bay on Texada Island.

A total of $2.34 million will be doled out to over 60 BC communities to go toward broadband Internet services and to “make BC one of the most connected jurisdictions in the world,” according to a press release from the office of Premier Christy Clark and the ministry of labour, citizens’ services and open government.

The Gillies Bay Internet Society is receiving $50,000 in government funding that will allow it to complete the installation of equipment necessary to improve Internet service to the community. Using previous funds the society has built an equipment shed on Mount Pocahontas, erected 100 feet of tower on the mountain and is arranging helicopter work to finish the tower within a matter of weeks.

“It’s partly to expand the network but it’s also giving us a more reliable network in the longer run,” said Gillies Bay Internet Society director John Dove. “Also to serve people who might not necessarily be able to afford the higher cost of the satellite system.”

Currently about 50 clients in Gillies Bay get Internet service through Lasqueti Island, which comes by way of Quality Foods’ head office in Errington on Vancouver Island. The tower, which has been in the works for about two years, will allow the society to provide wireless Internet to more clients and will provide more reliable service than the single source Internet from Lasqueti.

There is also a planned Point of Presence (PoP) location at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, south of Powell River, which has also helped in the project by allowing the society to use its facilities to connect to Telus fiberoptic cables and for a radio link to the tower on Texada Island.

The Lasqueti Island Access Society is also receiving $50,000 from the government initiative. This society has been meeting since 2000 with the goal of providing Internet service to the residents of Lasqueti “for personal and economic development and to promote the educational use of these technologies.”

SInce 2008 the province has provided $6.83 million in funding through Network BC’s Connecting Citizen’s Grant Program and has helped establish infrastructure to bring Internet to 210 locales in BC, according to the press release. Now 93 per cent of British Columbians have access to high-speed Internet.

“Bringing Internet access to our most rural areas is crucial for the future of our young people and their education,” said Clark in the press release, “for the health of families and for the competitiveness of our businesses.”