Rural Cowichan Valley Regional District residents may get improved connectivity thanks to ICET funding. (Citizen file)

Rural Cowichan Valley Regional District residents may get improved connectivity thanks to ICET funding. (Citizen file)

Cowichan Valley Regional District gets funding for broadband connectivity development

Funds come from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s READY Program

Internet services in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s more rural areas will benefit from funding from the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s (ICET) READY Program.

Along with the Village of Gwa’yas’dums on the north Island, the goal is to increase rural and remote broadband speed to develop community connectivity strategies.

The CVRD will first do an assessment to identify its communities with inadequate broadband speeds and then create a connectivity plan that will “explore options to improve access for households and businesses and enable the region to pursue last-mile infrastructure funding”.

“These are valuable projects that will strengthen pathways to essential online resources, boosting the ability of communities to attract and retain employees, remote workers, and community members,” said Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, the current ICET board chair. “Broadband infrastructure improvements are fundamental to narrowing the digital divide and ensuring all citizens can realize the full range of benefits that connectivity has to offer.”

The CVRD’s connectivity plan includes a community consultation process to hear residents’ needs and wants, as well as to explain what already exists to connnect residents and to advise residents of technology and network solutions and their potential development costs.

“This process will enable under-served areas to develop their own vision and priorities for connectivity,” said CVRD board chair Lori Iannidinardo. “The pandemic has highlighted more than ever that bandwidth and internet speed are crucial components of healthy, livable, and efficiently-serviced communities.”

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