B.C. funds improved internet service for Haida Gwaii, Texada Island

May 23, 2019: Texada Island (Photo: Ron Windrim)

Faster and more reliable internet service is coming to Haida Gwaii and Texada Island due in part to a B.C. government grant program.

The province says it will provide more than $200,000 to the Gillies Bay Internet Society on Texada Island to improve internet speeds and reliability. The society is a non-profit internet provider run by local volunteers to bring wireless internet access to Texada Island.

"People in Gillies Bay on Texada Island will see improved internet speeds, thanks to the work of volunteers in their own community," said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, in a statement Thursday.

"This project, supported by a grant from the Connecting British Columbia program, 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," Beare added.

Society chairman Brian Seymour says the island has become popular with people looking to move out of cities.

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

The Texada Island internet improvement project is expected to be completed this fall with faster, more reliable connectivity by the end of October.

Two projects on Haida Gwaii will received more than $850,000 combined to improve internet connections in the communities of Tow Hill, Tlell, Nadu and Dead Tree Point.

"When you improve internet services in a community, you also improve the lives of the people who live there," said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of internet provider CityWest, which is leading both projects. "The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of solid and reliable internet services, especially in rural and remote communities, and we’re looking forward to serving customers on Haida Gwaii."

This funding for the Connecting British Columbia program is part of the province's $10-billion COVID-19 response.