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Island Update » Galiano

February 24, 2020

 Photo credit: James Wheeler, via Shutterstock

 

Galiano Connectivity Consultation Snapshot

 

As part of the Connectivity Planning for the Southern Gulf Islands project, the CRD consulted with representatives of various economic sectors on each island about how connectivity impacts their work. On Galiano, this included transportation, contracting, emergency services, health, accommodations, retail, arts and culture, education and child care, real estate, remote workers and the public sector, including Parks & Recreation, the Library, Recycling, Islands Trust, and the Galiano Club. Here is some of what they shared.  

 

 

Emergency Services

  • Volunteer first responders don’t all receive the call out when there’s an emergency.

  • They don’t all have access to data about the property they’re heading to.

  • En-route and on-scene, they are unable to reach dispatch, and can’t request backup or contact police. For example, BC Ambulance Service sends patient updates while the paramedics are en route; Galiano paramedics often can't see them until the call is over and they get back to the station.

  • Residents are often unable to reach emergency services when needed. This is an ongoing challenge, but it was made especially apparent to everyone during last winter’s storm when residents were unable to call for help for weeks at a time.

Health

  • Community health workers, when in the field, are not able to consult with a doctor or receive patient data.  

  • Our island’s mental health services are critically insufficient - there’s an 18 month waiting list to speak to the only registered clinical counsellor. Telehealth over video would have a huge impact for residents in crisis, but many residents’ homes don’t have adequate internet to use it.  

  • Home Health Monitoring in the home is also  needed for our seniors and chronically ill.  

  • The systems health workers use are provincially determined, so as things move more online, our community gets left farther behind.

  • Our health system is overloaded. Having to do everything in person puts greater demands on an already overtaxed system. With better connectivity and more remote options, our personnel could be adding to the tools in their toolbox and reducing costs and seeing more patients.

Small business operators/Remote Workers

  • Immense amounts of wasted productivity and time.

  • Lost clients, lost revenue and an inability to compete with people in town for projects.  

  • An inability to expand their businesses and hire more locals.

  • No compensation for losing a day of work when the internet is out, time wasted on the phone with internet service providers because of service interruptions, and costs incurred to create backup systems in case their service goes down.

  • Feeling unprofessional or being unable to meet obligations and risking losing your job.  

  • Not bringing colleagues to Galiano because the connection is inadequate for the work they do.

  • Inability to attract workers because more and more people don’t want to live somewhere without connectivity.

  • Limiting the type of contracts you can take on because our connectivity means there are certain types of work in several fields you can’t do without a reliable, fast connection.  

  • A sense of being isolated from your professional communities even though there are remote networks you could be tapping into, and how that ultimately limits the ability to attract and retain staff.

  • Some people said they’ll have to move off island if something doesn’t change.   

Non-profit/Public Sector/Arts & Culture/Entertainment

  • Many of the same things mentioned above. As examples, an artist missed out on an opportunity for a residency because she ran out of bandwidth at the end of the month and couldn’t check her email in time, and a scientist who’s spending less time in the field because he’s stuck at his desk waiting for images to upload.

  • Some members of the public can't use all of the  services at the library. eg ebooks, video streaming.

  • Not all community members can access online information about upcoming events, and so organizations lose audience members.  

  • Some organizations would like to live stream events to reach residents who can’t necessarily attend in person, but many residents don’t have a good enough connection to download the video, so they are cut off. And some organizations don’t have adequate bandwidth to upload the video. As an example, the LTC meetings at the south hall are usually streamed on Facebook now and they get as many as 400 people viewing them. But it doesn’t always work properly, and it isn’t an option for the LTCs that are held at the North Hall.  

  • Galiano has a unique filmmaking community that has resulted from the incubation of GIFTS and AMES. Historically this has drawn artists to our community, who do innovative social change through digital storytelling. In theory, this sector could be growing. But film requires massive file sizes now, and so Galiano has become less appealing as a community to live in and as partners to work with because of poor connectivity. Creative workers on the island are limited in their ability to share their innovative content and scale up their unique models for giving a voice to marginalized youth.   

Education

  • Need in multiple sectors for the ability to do distance education and training. For example, first responders need to do online training. There are also lost opportunities for residents to access online educational programs.  

  • Galiano students don’t always have access to the homework tools they need.

  • The most vulnerable students are often the ones who rely most on technical supports.

  • Families in our School District are marginalized as outer islands kids, and it’s even more challenging to make our voices heard when our remote communications tools don’t work.  

  • Kids on the water taxi without wifi who could be using that time to support their learning - doing coursework.

Environmental Impact of reduced connectivity (across all sectors)

  • Extra vehicle travel. For example, people are traveling across the island to access a decent connection to get their work done.  

  • People in multiple sectors are making trips to town and losing an entire day of work as a result because their connection isn’t reliable or fast enough to do things remotely such as video meetings, or uploading and downloading large files. (And spending their money in town instead of on-island as a result.)

  • Organizations are relying on paper communications to ensure they reach all community members, which has a big environmental footprint

Galiano islanders are a resilient, resourceful bunch, and are very good at making do, but that means that all the ways the community is impacted are sometimes hard to see. For example, residents who live in the south end of the island may not be aware of how poor (or nonexistant) connectivity is in other neighbourhoods. Some community members also talked about how islanders limit the scope of possibility because they know they don’t have the connectivity needed to undertake innovative new projects.

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