At the announcement, hosted by the federal and provincial governments, Backhouse said that even before his office was created last summer, northerners had talked about the need for improved communications infrastructure at the premier’s summit.
During that summit, one of the top five opportunities identified at the small business and services workshop was to "capitalize on telecommunications technology," and a goal identified was to "improve telecommunications service." Technology workshop participants said the government "needs to proceed with the Electronic Highway Accord and Provincial Learning Network."
Northerners have also spoken to the commissioner as he travelled through the region. "Communities like Telegraph Creek, Dease Lake, New Aiyansh, Atlin, Stewart and Fraser Lake all told me they needed their own connections to the outside world," Backhouse said. "They also told me to do what I could to keep the pressure on for Internet service and make it a priority.
"Today’s announcement about new Internet connections was foreshadowed in this year’s provincial budget, and I am pleased to see it come to fruition," said Backhouse. The budget included a commitment to make sure all B.C. communities have access to the communications tools required to take part in the modern economy, and it earmarked $10 million to launch this regional development strategy.
On June 11, 1999, the communities of Atlin, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek became the first sites to receive the new two-way satellite PLNet connections. The infrastructure improved service not only to schools and government offices, but also to the Dease Lake Community Internet Service. Today’s announcement provided funding from both the federal and provincial governments for equipment and technology connections to another 26 northern schools and communities this fall and put a process in place to service others where technically possible in the coming months.
"Not all communities I’ve met with and talked to about Internet service are covered by this announcement, but they are certainly still on my list for service as soon as possible," Backhouse added. "I will push to see another announcement within a few months. The commitment is there: Northerners have spoken in unison on this issue, and we are going to see delivery."
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SITES COMPLETED IN NORTHERN B.C. :
SCHEDULED SITES IN NORTHERN B.C. FOR FALL ’99:
SITES AWAITING TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS:
Contact: John Backhouse, Commissioner
Northern Development Commission
Ministry of Energy and Mines
For more information on the Ministry of Energy and Mines, visit our Web page at http://www.em.gov.bc.ca on the Internet.
The Government of B.C. and Alcan Inc. each contributed $7.5 million to establish the Northern Development Fund in 1999. The investment income generated from this fund supports the NKDF grants program. Each partner has one representative serving on the board of directors. The NKDF is part of the portfolio of the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
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