High-speed internet is coming to more rural communities. (Black Press Media)

High-speed internet is coming to more rural communities. (Black Press Media)

Ryder Lake one of five of B.C. regions getting connected to high-speed internet

Almost 2,000 rural B.C. households including Ryder Lake to get ‘rapid response’ funding from feds

Ryder Lake is getting the high-speed internet it needs — at last.

The hillside community above Chilliwack has been lobbying local and senior levels of government for years to help get them out of their “dire” telecommunications predicament.

They are among the nearly 2,000 rural B.C. households about to benefit from “rapid response” federal funding for expensive-to-install infrastructure. It’s coming to in a handful of regions from the Fraser Valley to the Sunshine Coast.

Andy Harrington was one of the Ryder Lake residents trying to get it addressed at the highest levels.

“The pandemic has underlined the fact that high-speed internet is essential in today’s society, be it for business, the education of our children, or the simple joy of being able to connect with family and friends,” Harrington said.

“I am delighted that the government and Telus have responded to our plight and that the community of Ryder Lake will soon be able to enjoy a service that is becoming a basic human right.”

The mayor Chilliwack agreed, and the City of Chilliwack sent letters as well.

“After advocating for high-speed internet access for Ryder Lake residents for a number of years, we are pleased that those members of our community will soon be able to stay better connected,” Popove said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that access to reliable internet is a must, and this investment from the Government of Canada will help people in Ryder Lake connect with family and friends, remote learning opportunities, online City services, and more.”

The latest Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) “rapid response” stream of funding, of up to $150 million will be connecting 1,977 B.C. households in: Pemberton, Steelhead (northern District of Mission), Ryder Lake, northwest of Princeton, and the north Sunshine Coast

More than 400 Ryder Lake residents signed a letter last May describing their “dire internet situation in Ryder Lake and its surrounding neighbourhoods in a critical time of emergency.”

The community has non-existent or outdated communications infrastructure, with wireless service from a local cellular phone tower and internet access through copper wire, not fibre optic connectivity.

It’s still a problem across the country.

The $6.7 million fund is earmarked for TELUS Communications to bring the fastest internet to those five regions of B.C., said Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, in the news release of Feb. 18.

“Right now, too many Canadians living in rural and remote communities lack access to high-speed internet,” Monsef said to the press release of Feb. 17 from the federal government.

“Through the Universal Broadband Fund’s (UBF) Rapid Response Stream, the Government of Canada is taking immediate action to get Canadians connected to the high-speed internet they need.”

RELATED: Ryder Lake situation ‘dire’

READ MORE: Boosting the universal broadband funding

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City of ChilliwackInternet and Telecom