The Connected Coast project continues to lay fibre-optic cables across Northern B.C. allowing households and businesses to have high speed communication services for the first time. The project has now reached the remote village of Hartley Bay with over 250 kilometres of subsea fibre laid to date, a project made possible with funding from the provincial and federal governments.

Last November, CityWest and the Gitga’at Development Corporation jointly announced a partnership agreement, creating a new company, Gitga’at Communications Corp. The company will jointly manage a leg of the Connected Coast project between Hartley Bay and Kitamaat Village, as well as providing last mile fibre-to-the-home services in the community of Hartley Bay. This unique partnership structure will see the company re-invest a portion of its profits into Gitga’at communities, while also giving community members more influence over their connectivity needs.

“It’s great to see the project progressing. It’s also great to be able to directly contribute to the Connected Coast project through the use of the Gitga’at Transporter and the Ocean Destiny in laying the submerged fibre for a number of sections,” said Paul Paterson, CEO of Gitga’at Management. “The very real and very positive impacts of the Connected Coast project to the remote Indigenous communities of B.C. will be measured in decades, not just years, and will impact the lives of thousands of people.”

“It is truly exciting to see this large project moving into its tangible phase of development, having passed through a significant portion of the stakeholder engagement and permitting related processes. This now clears the way for a summer of significant cable laying along the Coast of British Columbia,” said Stefan Woloszyn, CEO of CityWest. “We are humbled to be a partner of the Gitga’at Nation and we would like to express our thanks to the Province of B.C., the Federal Government as well as Indigenous Service Canada for their vision in ensuring that coastal communities are able to unlock their connectivity aspirations through best in class Internet connectivity.”

After hitting the 50km milestone in late January, fibre has been connected at shore landings in Oona River, Kitkatla, Bonilla Island, Tom Island, and Hartley Bay. Fibre had previously been laid at shore landings in Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Dodge Cove, and Ridley Island. Before the fibre-optic cabling was laid in the water, shoreline cabinets were constructed in each of the communities: this is the access point for each community, where their local network connects to the subsea network.

“Connectivity is essential to people living in remote communities like Hartley Bay. Access to high-speed Internet not only helps these communities stay connected, but also allows them to participate in the local economy and ensures reliable access to services such as telehealth and e-learning,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Coast. “Our government is pleased to be able to help fund this project, which will improve the lives of people in my region and along the coast.”

The Connected Coast project will continue to gain momentum throughout 2022. Over the following months, the project team will connect the Northern communities of Klemtu, Bella Bella, Martin Valley, Ocean Falls, Bella Coola, and Tlell, along with other strategic locations in between. The Tlell and Bella Coola landing sites will be the access points to across points for fibre-optic services across Haida Gwaii and the Bella Coola valley. Afterward, the construction project team will be moving down to the southern areas of B.C. off the east coast of Vancouver Island, ultimately terminating in Vancouver.

About the Connected Coast project
The Connected Coast project is a joint venture between CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District. The $45.4 million project received funding from the government of Canada’s Connected to Innovate program ($22 million), Indigenous Services Canada ($12 million), and the Province of B.C. through the Connected British Columbia program ($11.4 million). When complete, the Connected Coast project will provide backbone communication services to 139 rural and remote communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC Coast from Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island.

When complete, the project will touch approximately 90,000 households in rural and remote communities around B.C., stretching 3,400 kilometres – about the distance from Vancouver to Ottawa. Laid in an environmentally-friendly manner on the ocean floor, it will be one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world.