The Community Economic Development Committee has set Internet connectivity as a key priority, which became particularly important to communities as they worked to conduct business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee monitors work to improve broadband internet connectivity for all regions of British Columbia. UBCM participates in a variety of initatives related to expanding internet connectivity in BC on the Committee’s behalf.

Benefits of connectivity

Studies conducted throughout BC show that improved internet connectivity in rural economies produces significant returns on investment—as much as $18,000 in economic benefits per newly connected person in the region.

BC’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services has conducted studies on the community benefits of broadband internet connectivity. BC Stats recently released the Northern BC Connectivity Benefits Study report and the Interior BC Connectivity Benefits Study report, which build on a similar economic benefits study in the Kootenay region, released in 2022. The studies examined the potential impacts of high-speed internet expansion in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities on local and provincial economies.

Regional Connectivity Knowledge Network

The Regional Connectivity Knowledge Network (RCKN) supports peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, education, and access to technical and policy experts and the telecommunications industry, for local and Indigenous governments engaged in improving access to high-speed internet in rural, remote, and underserved areas of BC.

It is made up of elected officials and senior staff from regional districts and remote communities, as well as representatives from Indigenous governments and organizations. Director Maureen LeBourdais, Cariboo RD, serves as Chair, and a representative from the Community Economic Development Committee attends on behalf of the UBCM Executive. Staff from UBCM and Connected Communities (provincial Ministry of Citizens’ Services) provide administrative support. It was established in October 2020, and meets monthly, with a hiatus over the summer to accommodate wildfire season.

Folks from Indigenous governments, regional districts, or remote communities interested in participating in the RCKN are welcome to contact Reiko Tagami, Policy Analyst.

First Nations Technology Council

UBCM staff attended meetings of the First Nations Technology Council’s (FNTC) Intergovernmental Working Group, as the council developed its Indigenous Digital Equity Strategy. The engagement and consultation stages are complete as of 2023; FNTC is expected to release a draft Indigenous Digital Equity Strategy in 2024.