The Comox Valley Regional District board is taking its next steps toward establishing improved high-speed internet for Denman Island and Hornby Island.
At the Aug. 24 board meeting, directors supported recommended motions from the CVRD’s electoral areas services committee (EASC) and motions for bylaws about the service. The bylaws for establishing service and loan authorization were each given the first three readings.
EASC recommendations also included references to a ballot question for voters, which will ask if people are in favour of the bylaws and also spells out what would be authorized: establishment and operation of the service; borrowing $767,677 to be repaid over a maximum 10-year period to finance the development of the high-speed internet infrastructure; and entering into a 20-year agreement with the service operator.
Other recommendations included committing $6,500 from the Denman Island Feasibility Study Service and $9,500 from the Hornby Island Feasibility Study Service for the voter assent and other costs of the project, as well as affirming Jake Martens as chief election officer and Lisa Dennis as deputy chief election officer for the vote.
In late July, the board agreed to begin the public engagement process for the communities. Shortly after, the province announced financial support for the so-called “last mile” project through the province’s Connecting British Columbia program. It amounted to up to $3.26 million for Denman Island and up to $2.38 million for Hornby Island.
“We are moving toward a future where people in communities up and down the coast have the same level of internet services being offered in urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria,” Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare said in a news release on Aug. 5. “Upgrading the networks on Hornby and Denman will boost the performance of internet access this year and prepare the islands to be connected to the high-performance Connected Coast network.”
The work is tied to the Connected Coast infrastructure project. Earlier work focused on the connections across the Strait of Georgia. For internet, CityWest, a telecommunications subsidiary of the City of Prince Rupert, is providing the service. To proceed, voters will have to give assent for the regional district to cover its portion through borrowing.