Internet Connectivity - A Key for Younger Island Demographics
The CRD recently completed the first phase of the Connectivity Planning for the Southern Gulf Islands project. This first phase focused on the internet connectivity needs of the SGI to determine a connectivity plan as a basis for technical design and roll-out by the region's ISPs. Many of the issues mentioned in the Galiano update came up on Mayne Island as well. One emergent realization was that the lack of connectivity was a contributing cause for the decline of the island's population.
Between the last two census, Mayne Island lost 11.4% of its residents. As the older folks age out and move closer to medical centers and care facilities, the flow of incoming younger generation residents is hindered by a lack of connectivity.
One professional, an architect, explained it thus: He had bought a property on Mayne in 2002 expecting to move his family here and do a significant amount of his work remotely, from the island. He quickly found out that the internet bandwidth and latency were insufficient to handle the large files he was working with. Since then, connectivity has degraded, his files have become larger, and he depends on video conferencing constantly to connect with his clients. His dream of making a living from the island became impossible because of low connectivity.
In fact, he mentioned that the trend in professional circles was to move away from a physical central office and instead use the internet to support team collaboration and coordination is all aspects of customer need fulfillment. All the files, the back-ups, everything is on the internet so there is no dependency on physical hardware. Following a calamity, they can be up and running again in 24 hours, the time to buy new hardware.
Any young six-figure professionals working for such organizations could not live on Mayne or any of the SGIs because of a lack of connectivity. The local economy loses out in many ways, including the loss of skills that would otherwise come with well educated women and men invested in their community. As a result, the median age on Mayne Island is 65 years old, about 20 years older than the rest of BC.
CRD Community Works Funding for Mayne Island
The Mayne Island Early Childhood Society got approved for a grant of $70,000 in matching funds for a much larger provincial grant for a 2,500 square foot capital build.
In addition, the Mayne Island Volunteer Firefighters Association received a grant to restore and renovate the original Mayne Island Schoolhouse (circa1883) to create a multipurpose community facility, which is already being used by various community organizations including the new Scout troop and the
Mayne Island Assisted Living Lunch Bunch program.
CESC Contribution to Mayne Island Strategic Planning Initiative
The CESC contributed $5,500 to the Designing the Future of Mayne Island Summit initiative to develop strategies that address some of the island’s more pressing needs, including climate change resilience, affordable housing, food security, health, in-home services and inter-island passenger ferries.