Anarchist Mountain deputy fire chief Wayne Jasper speaks about the benefits of high-speed Internet while Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims looks on during the announcement in Oliver this morning. (Lyonel Doherty / Aberdeen Publishing)
By Lyonel Doherty
Access to high-speed Internet is about to become a reality for residents in rural Osoyoos, and Anarchist Mountain deputy fire chief Wayne Jasper couldn’t be happier.
Jasper was on hand Monday morning in Oliver where Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims announced that 12 rural B.C. communities will be getting better Internet service thanks to a wireless network upgrade.
The minister made the announcement at Medici’s Gelateria with the help of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce.
Jasper said having high-speed Internet in rural areas definitely helps emergency responders improve their service.
“Technology has become very advanced, with many emergency response tools requiring online updates that can be difficult without a reliable high-speed connection,” he noted.
Jasper said the age of information means they need it right now, not the next day. And they can’t waste time looking it up in a book.
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He explained that the highway that runs through Anarchist Mountain constantly has tractor-trailer traffic, and any incident involving those vehicles requires immediate response.
“We’re also looking at improving the way we can offer training to our own members by now being able to access online training.”
He said so many courses today require high-speed Internet connection because of the videos involved. This allows quality training without the expense of having to send members out of town, he pointed out.
Jasper said they can also use other features, such as add tracking to their apparatus in order to monitor what is on scene. Members can also communicate better with forestry crews, noting that nearly 100 per cent of Anarchist Mountain Fire Department’s coverage area is wildland urban interface.
Jasper said if something occurs in the area, they need to act quickly and work fast with the BC Forest Service in getting real-time information such as winds, temperature, humidity and fire spread.
“It’s a very critical amount of information that we need to obtain in a very short period of time (which currently can be difficult).”
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Ron Palmer, managing partner of Osoyoos Mountain Estates, Inc.,
said upgrading the existing network to LTE-advanced capability places residents on par with their urban counterparts.
“As we move into the 21st century, reliable broadband is virtually essential to everyday life. As a result of this investment, our residents are able to stay in rural B.C. and be productive.”
Sims said accessing high-speed Internet allows rural areas to have the same social, educational and economic opportunities as those in urban centres.
She noted the “Connecting British Columbia” program closes the digital divide between our citizens and the rest of the world, and for more remote communities, it creates the lifeline they need to thrive.
ABC Communications Ltd. will receive $298,406 from the Connecting British Columbia program to help fund wireless network upgrades in the 12 communities. The total project will cost an estimated $596,812.
The province continues to welcome applications for Connecting British Columbia program grant funding. Successful applicants may receive up to a 50 per cent contribution toward projects that improve high-speed Internet connectivity for people in rural and indigenous areas of B.C.