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No broadband internet for Squamish in fed's announcement

MP Patrick Weiler said he hopes the federal broadband fund can help bring connectivity to Paradise Valley at a later date.

There was no mention of Squamish in the federal announcement to fund broadband internet in the Sea to Sky, but MP Patrick Weiler told The Chief he's hoping to make it happen.

On Feb. 18, Rural Economic Development Minister Maryam Monsef announced $6.7 million in funding for TELUS Communications to bring high-speed internet to rural residents of B.C.This project is expected to connect 1,977 under-served households to high-speed internet in the regions of Pemberton, Steelhead, Ryder Lake, north-west of Princeton and the Sunshine Coast.

While Squamish was not among the areas seeing the money, Weiler acknowledged there is a need in the rural areas surrounding town, such as Paradise Valley. He noted the $1.75-billion federal universal broadband fund, created in November, is relatively new and the fact that projects are already being announced is a good sign.

While residents in Paradise Valley aren't getting broadband internet this time around, Weiler said the federal program is a possible avenue for that in the future.

"We're actively looking at ways to connect those people, and this program is a great way to deliver," he said.

"It is a priority for them to get connected as well and today's announcement is really kind of provides an example of ways we can deliver for those folks too."

Getting high-speed internet to parts of rural Squamish requires helping provide incentives for companies to put the infrastructure in, he said.

"For telecommunications companies, there may not be a business case for investing if it's not a very densely populated area, so what this fund does is it provides that extra bit of support to make a viable business case for it," said Weiler.

"There's a strong option to be able to support connectivity in Paradise Valley through this. There's some active communications happening within different folks, different elected officials, different telecommunications companies about connecting those remaining areas."
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