Connected Coast project brings high-speed internet to coastal communities

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By Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A cable-laying ship will soon begin to install high-speed fibre optics infrastructure along B.C.’s coast.
Announced in 2018, the $45.4 million Connected Coast project is bringing high-speed internet to around 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of quality, high-speed internet to learn, do business, stay healthy, access services and keep in touch with loved ones," said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens' Services, in a release. "Through Connected Coast, people and businesses in remote and underserved communities along B.C.'s coast can stay connected and participate in economic opportunities - faster.”
By providing communities with high-speed internet and cellular connectivity, remote populations will have greater access to online health services, education and remote work opportunities.
Subsea fibre optics cable will run along the ocean floor for more than 3,400 kilometres, from Haida Gwaii to southern Vancouver Island.
The project is a partnership between CityWest, the federal government, the province, and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD).
“CityWest has and is following all provincial, federal and local government permitting and other requirements related to laying the cable,” the Ministry of Citizens' Services said. “The cable is laid on, or under, the seabed in an environmentally friendly manner and pulled up onto shore where the service is required.”
The fibre consists of glass strands that are roughly the thickness of a strand of human hair, which will be protected by stainless steel rods, said the ministry.
“A steel casing provides further protection around the cable at shore landings,” the ministry added.
It will be one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world. Landing sites for the Connected Coast project include, Ka:’yu:’k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h', Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Nuchatlaht, Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Huu-ay-aht, Hesquiaht, Toquaht and Uchucklesaht First Nations.
Huu-ay-aht First Nation Councillor Charlie Clappis said it’s coming at the right time.
The nation currently has many development projects underway which will see the region’s population double over the next couple of years, he said.
Currently, Clappis said he can tell when “everyone is surfing” the web because there is a ...continued

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