Cherryville powers up for high-speed internet

Bobbi Fox of the Cherryville high-speed internet committee, Eugene Foisy RDNO director, Ben Stewart, Minister of Citizen's Serives and Lisa Larson of White Valley Log Homes give a thumbs up for the upcoming arrival of high-speed internet in Cherryville.

By Charlotte Helston

Cherryville residents won't have to wait for a clear day to park within view of Silver Star Mountain's cell tower to get high speed internet anymore.

"Parking by the golf course where you can see it is one of the only places you can get internet," resident Bobbie Fox says. She's been lobbying for better service for ten years, and today, she got the news she's been waiting for.

Minister of Citizen's Services Ben Stewart announced a $250,000 grant from the B.C. government Wednesday for high-speed internet service in Cherryville.

The money will help cover the estimated $300,000 needed to install the necessary infrastructure for high-speed internet. The Regional District of the North Okanagan came up with another $50,000 to make high-speed cruising a reality.

Currently, Cherryville has spotty, if any, cell service, and no high-speed internet.

"Improved internet access in Cherryville will put information at people's fingertips, from access to government services to health and educational resources," Stewart says.

Local businesswoman Lisa Larson was born and raised in Cherryville and says high-speed will help her family's log home company flourish.

"My husband and I co-own a B.C.-based business in a highly competitive market," Larson says. "Access to high-speed Internet will help level the playing field for us. Our daily business routine is going to become much easier, from filing government paperwork, doing our banking and most importantly, sharing photos and building plans with customers."

Larson will be able to keep her company website and Facebook page updated on a constant basis.

"It's also a way for people that don't live near their families to keep in touch with skype and email," Larson says.

Like every other child in Cherryville, Larson's two school-aged daughters will now be able to do research at home for class projects online.

Fox, who heads the Cherryville broadband/ high-speed internet steering committee says the new service will encourage more families to move to the area.

"Again and again, we hear from residents and people wanting to move here, 'how long until Cherryville gets connected?" Fox says.

She says some residents pay between $60-150 for special satellite boosters to get internet. "It's not affordable for families, especially if they exceed the standard package."

Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky says the project is a great moment for the entire region.

"In today's world, it's an impediment to day-to-day life and the economy not to have high-speed," Sawatzky says. "This is good for Cherryville and good for all areas."

While residents haven't yet been given a specific date to cruise the internet high-speed style, officials say the service will be up and running by the end of the year.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

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