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Grants expected to improve internet speed and access on Texada Island

Gillies Bay Internet Society to receive provincial funding for upgrades
ONLINE IMPROVEMENT: Gillies Bay Internet Society will be receiving more than $200,000 from the provincial government to provide faster and more reliable internet service to the community.

People living on Texada Island will soon have faster and more reliable internet access, in part due to grants from the Connecting British Columbia program.

For the last year, rural areas like Texada Island have become more popular with people who are looking to move out of the city, stated Brian Seymour, chairman of the Gillies Bay Internet Society, in a media release.

“However, people only want to move to locations with fast, reliable internet, so that they can work from home or start an online business,” stated Seymour. “The ability to function online is also essential for remote schooling, shopping and for staying connected with family and friends.”

People in Gillies Bay can expect improved internet speeds and reliability later this year as work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of October 2021.

“It’s nice to have a reliable internet connection, so I don’t have to run down to the fire hall and deal with a computer down there; I can do a lot of my work from home,” stated Gillies Bay fire chief Rob McWilliam. “As a firefighter, I use the internet a lot to communicate with my members from my computer at home, as well as all of our extended contacts with the regional district and BC government. I also get a lot of videos for training purposes. I’m looking forward to the improved reliability, and extra speed won’t hurt either.”

Texada Island and Gillies Bay are home to incredible people who look out for each other’s interests," stated Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons. “The Gillies Bay Internet Society is a great example of their spirit, taking on the challenge of connecting their friends and neighbours to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. I’m pleased the Connecting British Columbia program is getting behind their work to upgrade these services in the community.”

People in Gillies Bay will see improved internet speeds, thanks to the work of volunteers in their own community, stated Lisa Beare, provincial minister of citizens services. 

“This project is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when communities, service providers, the province and people volunteering their time are all driven and working together to improve people’s lives,” stated Beare.

The program will provide up to $202,556 to the Gillies Bay Internet Society to improve internet speeds and reliability. The society is a nonprofit internet service provider established by local volunteers to bring wireless internet access to Gillies Bay and the surrounding area on Texada Island.

In September 2020, the province made its largest-ever contribution to the Connecting British Columbia program, with $90 million in new funding under StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. This investment has provided grant funding to improve broadband services for people in more than 224 rural communities, including 84 Indigenous communities.