High-speed internet access helps B.C.’s local businesses grow into new markets, cut operating costs and reduce their environmental impacts by using technology.
Purple Springs Nursery in Armstrong is a community that benefited from Connecting British Columbia grant funding to improve local internet connectivity. They know that well.
“Even in traditional sectors like agriculture, the internet is being used in imaginative ways. For example, Purple Springs Nursery uses online technology to reduce its environmental impact and monitor growing conditions for thousands of plants,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Everyone in British Columbia deserves to benefit from advances in technology. With co-operation between all levels of government, the private sector and community groups, we can maximize the potential of connectivity.”
Most days begin at 7 a.m. for Purple Spings general manager Joe Klassen, who operates a business with 48 employees planting upwards of 2,000 trees per day to supply customers across North America.
“We have a forestry seedling operation here and all of the climate control equipment uses the internet to manage the system,” Klassen said. “Reliability of internet is critical. We’ve put in multiple generators in order to ensure we have power supplied, but if our internet goes down, we’re in crisis mode.”
Operating a 100-hectare (250-acre) nursery means keeping track of more than 20,000 trees and millions of seedlings. For years, these details were carefully managed by a handful of staff and a very busy printer. Switching to an online inventory system has saved the company more than $100,000 per year, while also reducing its environmental footprint.
In the future, the company hopes to use the technology people use to “tap” their debit cards as a way to monitor the life of each plant it produces and provide the information to customers. Klassen said this will not be possible without high-speed internet access.
“The customer is asking more and more, ‘Where has this plant been? Where was it grown? What has been done to it?’” Klassen said. “You’d be able to track your plant right from day one, to planting and through to the customer.”
Grant funding from the Province’s Connecting British Columbia program helps make infrastructure projects in places like Armstrong a reality. Expertise from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services can help communities maximize benefits for people by planning for their connected futures.
“It never fails to amaze me how our communities are using today’s technologies to improve the quality of life for people in B.C., whether it’s keeping our neighbourhoods safer through advanced emergency management or growing rural businesses with a global reach,” Sims said. “As Purple Springs Nursery shows, high-speed internet can be as vital to a rural agricultural company as it is for a software developer in Vancouver.”
The Connecting British Columbia program is currently accepting applications for $16 million in funding to help support planning and construction of broadband infrastructure. An additional $50-million investment in the program was announced with Budget 2019.
Since July 2017, projects to improve high-speed internet connectivity are underway or completed in 455 communities, including 75 Indigenous communities. For more information on the Connecting British Columbia program, visit: www.NetworkBC.gov.bc.ca.
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