Residents between Jaffray and Roosville are receiving improved internet connection following the installation of 60 kilometres of high-speed fibre optic cable funded by a partnership of local and regional government entities.
The broadband network is a linked series of fibre optic cables, located both above and below ground, that transfer information at high speed and volume. New cables run between Jaffray and the U.S. border at Roosville, including Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it, Grasmere and Baynes Lake plus an additional branch to Kragmont.
“Affordable, reliable and high-speed internet connectivity is no longer a luxury, it is a basic requirement to access information and services in today’s world,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president of the Columbia Basin Trust, which provided over $1 million towards the project.
“Too many Basin communities continue to struggle with inadequate connectivity and residents have clearly stated a need to improve their services to the same level as that offered in more populated areas.”
Internet access is vital to access and connect to services people count on, especially in rural, remote and Indigenous communities, emphasized Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West.
“This project to expand internet access in the South Country will unlock a world of economic, employment and educational opportunities for people in these communities to succeed and contribute to the continued success of our province,” said Conroy.
The South Country project cost a total of $2.8 million, including more than $1 million in funding from the Columbia Basin Trust and $420,000 from the Regional District of East Kootenay. The project also received $1.4 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, funded by the Province and administered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Joel McKay, chief executive officer of Northern Development Initiative Trust, said this will strengthen social, business and educational connections for those living in local communities.
“As administrator of the Connecting British Columbia program, we are pleased to see another project benefit rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”
Tough Country Communications is an internet service provider that has linked its network to the new section. One customer, Janet Williamson, has a home in Kragmont, working as a remote pharmacist while her husband stays connected to his environmental companies in Calgary and Edmonton.
“We’ve been able to pretty much do anything we need without a worry (with the updated connection),” Williamson said. “Multiple family members can do various online activities at the same time. It’s been great.”
The Trust is nearing completion of a 125-kilometre expansion of its network in the Slocan Valley, to just north of Nakusp. There are two additional projects on the go, which will add approximately 100 kilometres of cable in total between Fruitvale and Nelson and between Kimberley and Wasa.
Once all these sections are complete, the Trust’s backbone will be 1,285 kilometres long.