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Greater Vernon Chamber praises rural internet strategy

VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce welcomes a provincial strategy that will provide regional districts legislative mechanisms to link rural areas to high-speed internet.
On April 26, the provincial government announced changes that allow regional districts to provide financing for capital costs to internet service providers where it may not otherwise make sense from a business perspective.
“The Chamber has long advocated for rural connectivity as the availability of high-speed internet will allow rural residents to expand their existing businesses by having improved access to customers and suppliers, while entrepreneurs looking to embrace the rural lifestyle can pursue their dreams with new businesses,” said Dione Chambers, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.
“We also hope that the availability of high-speed internet will strengthen rural communities, which play a vital role in the North Okanagan’s economy. With the click of a mouse, students will have opportunities to research for school projects and potential careers, while families and seniors can access health services online. We believe this provincial initiative will be beneficial to parts of the BX, Westside Road, Falkland, rural Lumby, rural Enderby and Cherryville.”
Provincial legislation generally prohibits a regional district from aiding a business, but there are specific exceptions to this rule for services that are considered essential, including telephone, natural gas or electricity. Changes to the Local Government Act have identified high-speed internet as essential.
“In an increasingly connected world and marketplace, high-speed internet is a necessity for the success of businesses and the viability of communities,” said Chambers.
“We would encourage the regional districts in our area, as well as service providers, to be open to the opportunities that the legislative amendments bring as a way of strengthening the economy of the North Okanagan and the province.”
Dione Chambers, General Manager    
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce   
E:  P: 250.545.0771