Click here to view original web page at Jennifer Rice offers chance for Premier Horgan to highlight infrastructure, internet and cel phone initiatives for Haida Gwaii and North Coast
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided a chance Thursday for Premier Horgan to recount some recent spending by the government in the Northwest The questions for the most part were that of something from T ball, where MLA Jennifer Rice among many NDP MLA’s on the day, would walk […]
The questions for the most part were that of something from T ball, where MLA Jennifer Rice among many NDP MLA's on the day, would walk over to the Tee, place the ball atop and stand back ... providing a few chances for Premier John Horgan to take a few swings for batting practice.
First on themes of investment in infrastructure across the Northwest, where the premier delivered a roll call of communities and shout outs for Mayors including that of Prince Rupert's Lee Brain.
I thank the member for her questions. I know that in a ferry-dependent community like the north coast, those are the areas that are particularly important to her. We have an additional 2,700 round trips to be provided through ten routes. Port Hardy, mid coast Prince Rupert, and of course, Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert as well — these are critical to her community.
Reinvesting and re-establishing routes that had been terminated by the previous government was vital to that. Rural connectivity.
When it comes to broadband, 440 communities, 70 of which are Indigenous, have been connected since we started the initiative two years ago. We've been connecting the coast and First Nations through a whole range of other initiatives, whether it be through investments in education, investments in child care, telehealth and so on.
But the biggest investment, I think, that the member would be aware of — and the impact on Prince Rupert — was the $100 million infrastructure grant for the northwest or for communities right across the north of British Columbia. Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Burns Lake, Mackenzie, all the way through to Valemount, got access to this $100 million grant.
I think of mayor Lee Brain in Prince Rupert, talking — as you have, Member — since we first met, about the wooden pipes in Prince Rupert. It's high time that infrastructure investments were made in rural communities. We've provided the resources so that those infrastructure investments can be made.
Another invitation to offer comment, provided a chance for Mr. Horgan to deliver the NDP government's newest talking points on cel phone and internet service plans for Haida Gwaii and other coastal areas.
Ms. Rice brought some of the waning moments of Thursday Legislature session to a close with some thoughts towards that topic and another invitation to share some notes from the Premier.
Access to reliable Internet and cell phone service is a modern-day piece of infrastructure that is often taken for granted. Yet, coastal B.C. and many northern and rural, remote First Nations communities lack this access. Can the Premier explain what this government is doing to improve Internet and cell phone infrastructure for rural, remote and First Nations communities in B.C.?
In reply, Mr. Horgan took advantage of the speaking time to reflect on some of the work the government has already moved forward in the way of the Connected Coast Fibre Link project between Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert.
I thank the member for the question. I talked earlier about the connectivity issues that we've been working on, but specifically, when it comes to Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, we've been making great strides connecting these communities around the coast and looping that back to exchange with Vancouver. That means that we can keep people in their communities, and they can still access the services that they need, whether it's health care, education, emergency preparedness or preparing for the jobs of the future.
He also made the most of the invitation to comment by reflecting on how the province has moved to protect Indigenous languages across BC.
I've got a comment here from a Haida elder. Of course, you will know that Haida Gwaii is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It's a jewel of the north coast. Now Haida elders can see their children staying in communities because they're connected by Internet services. Broadband opens up the world to people who have oftentimes felt isolated and alone.
That has a profound impact on how people look at themselves, look at their culture and look at their community. I mentioned Port Renfrew, on the far end of my constituency, which is at the end of the highway, although there's now a loop through a logging road infrastructure. It was at the end of the road. Get a little bit of rain there, as well, so keeping a positive disposition in November, December and January is sometimes difficult. I know the member for North Coast sees a little bit of rain in her community as well, so being able to access the world through broadband allows all of us to be global citizens. So the notion of being isolated and alone in small rural remote communities, as important as that is to the families and the communities that exist there
Being able to connect to the rest of the world is so fundamental to who we will be in the future. I think British Columbia has been leading the way, making sure that, as our contribution to Canada, we're connecting all of the disparate groups so they can keep contact with each other. That will also help with protecting and preserving Indigenous languages.
I know the member has just a plethora of Indigenous communities in her constituency, and protecting Indigenous language is fundamental to culture.
We oftentimes hear the Quebec question, the two-language question in Canada. I think now, as we look at going into the 2020s, we're no longer talking about two languages in Canada. We're talking about dozens and dozens — in fact, hundreds of languages in Canada. That is, I think, transformative.
We'll be able to achieve so much, because we can contact people inside communities and, in fact, across the country and across the globe so that we can preserve and record the languages that kept British Columbia moving for millennia. These are powerful investments that don't often make it onto the front pages of the newspapers.
We invested $50 million in Indigenous languages in our first budget — unprecedented investment. We did so because the keepers of those languages, the elders in communities across B.C., are sadly passing on, and with them goes the language, the knowledge of the culture, and we need to preserve that. Investing in languages is one of the most important things we can do to preserve and maintain the cultures that are so distinct here in British Columbia and particularly in the member's community.
You can explore the Premier's review of the impact of better communication services from the Legislature record here at 16:10PM.
As well as from the House Video for Thursday afternoon starting at the 4:10PM mark.
The Connected Coast project is a partnership between CityWest and the Stratchona Regional District on Vancouver Island, and was first detailed full in 2018.
You can learn more about it here.
The current status for the project has the Stratchona Regional District scheduling a number of consultation sessions to outline the nature of the project and to hear from residents in that area.
For some background on the CityWest involvement with the Sub Sea Fibre Link see some of our past items below:
August 1, 2018 -- CityWest partner, Stratchona Regional District to put Connected Coast Broadband plans to Alernate Approval process
May 4, 2018 -- CityWest and Strathcona Regional District launch online home for Sub Sea Communication project
March 1, 2018 -- MLA touts CityWest's contribution to Coastal communication links
February 14, 2018 -- Sub Sea Fibre project gets shout out from BC Speech from the Throne
January 18, 2018 -- CityWest outlines the blue print for subsea fibre plans