Internet service in the West Kootenay is improving thanks to provincial government grants. File photo

Internet service in the West Kootenay is improving thanks to provincial government grants. File photo

COVID-19 support program brings faster internet to rural communities

The province has provided grants to local internet providers

By John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Residents of the West Kootenay are enjoying faster internet service these days thanks to support from the province to improve their connectivity.

Business and non-profit internet service providers in the Slocan and Arrow Lakes Valleys received money from the Connecting British Columbia program in April, as part of the province’s COVID-19 response.

The providers were able to apply for grants of up to 90 per cent of their system improvement costs, to a total of $50,000.

Columbia Wireless, based out of Nelson, received about $35,500 from the program. “We decided to upgrade some key main network transport points, which allowed us to bring faster packages and also introduce our very first unlimited data package with up to 30Mbps transfer speeds to the whole existing network coverage area,” says Ben Leslie, CEO.

In Burton, the local community Internet Society got $33,000; Edgewood Community Internet received $42,800; and the Trout Lake Internet Society about $9,800, says the Northern Development Initiative Trust, the organization responsible for administering the Connecting British Columbia Program.

Like Leslie’s company, the other ISPs used the money for equipment upgrades to electronics, antennas and other equipment that directly supports and enhances capacity, performance or the range of the network.

The province says its COVID-19 response intake was a success, with 47 rapid network upgrade projects worth $1.2 million, helping 9,300 households receive better internet. The work was completed by the end of June.

In 2019, the B.C. government launched a $50-million expansion of the Connecting British Columbia program, the largest investment in the program’s history. The program provides grant funding to internet service providers to build vital connectivity infrastructure, including projects to bring fibre to entire regions or make final connections to homes and businesses.

And it seems like users are putting the better service to good use.

“We are receiving many positive responses especially from people working from home,” says Leslie. “Families with students are benefiting from the increased speeds for taking online classes and researching at home for homework assignments.

“Of course the gamers and movie buffs are loving it too, being able to download very large games, videos and playing online with faster and more reliable connections.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar doctors and mayor urge residents to take COVID-19 seriously as cases are confirmed in the city

“Your doctors would like you to understand we do now have Covid cases here”

There are few details but neighbours a Second Avenue house in Chilliwack say a huge police presence descended on the home after shots were heard. (File photo)
Robson search warrant yields fentanyl and weapons

Search warrant was part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation

Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park, fall 2020. Photo: Submitted
Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park. fall 2020. Photo submitted
VIDEO: Kootenay youth climate group works to protect Nelson’s water supply

Youth Climate Corps members spent five weeks thinning forest in West Arm Park

Photo: Black Press file
Trail traffic stop yields stolen cheque investigation

Trail RCMP will continue enhanced impaired driving enforcement this holiday season

Reiner Jakubowski American Peony Society Registrar Nomenclature has named his latest Creation Castlegar. Photo: submitted
New peony hybrid named for Castlegar

Reiner Jakubowski has named his latest peony creation after Castlegar.

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read