Newman sunflower farm in the District of Central Saanich

Connecting Canadians

Gigabit-enabled connectivity opens Greater Victoria to world of opportunity

Jul 1, 2022

With deep agricultural roots, communities like Central Saanich are supporting farmers and food producers through access to the world-leading TELUS network. JANIS JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Anyone who has lived in, visited or even driven through Central Saanich will agree it’s one of the prettiest communities in the country.

Home to the Tsartlip and Tsawout First Nations, the district offers a rare blend of urban, rural and even beach living. With all the amenities of a major city, it remains true to its farming roots. Today, Central Saanich boasts the highest concentration of agricultural production in the Greater Victoria region, from vineyards and grain fields to historic family farms and acreages dotted with horses. All this, and it’s conveniently nestled next to two major transportation hubs, including the Victoria International Airport and Swartz Bay Ferry terminal.

It’s no wonder, then, that the district is experiencing a mini economic boom as entrepreneurs and professionals across the country trade in their downtown office cubicles for the promise of greener spaces.

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of people doing business in Central Saanich has surged across almost every category, including home-based businesses, and small and large commercial enterprises, according to 2022 regional business licence data.

That is in line with Greater Victoria’s overall growth, which, because of its smaller size and diverse industry base relative to other Canadian urban centres, has drawn strong interest from newcomers over the last two years. Experts predict communities like Central Saanich will continue to rise in popularity as jobs go increasingly online and Canadians show a preference for larger homes outside city cores.

“We are a rural community but we are not a small community,” says Ryan Windsor, District of Central Saanich mayor for the past eight years. “Our community continues to move forward. There is a definite uptick in new businesses starting up. There is investment and more types of housing coming in, including rental apartments, and that’s a positive thing.”

An image of Brentwood bay in the District of Central Saanich

TELUS PureFibre is available across Greater Victoria, including Brentwood Bay (pictured), with network builds reaching completion in Sidney and Saanich. JANIS JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

New faces, green spaces

Connectivity is a big part of the economic picture.

The arrival of TELUS PureFibre to Greater Victoria means everyone from contractors and tech workers to media marketers, artists and various professionals can set up shop in this beautiful part of the country, without sacrificing their professional ambitions.

And with its deep agricultural roots, Central Saanich, which was connected in 2017, is also supporting its farmers and food producers through access to TELUS’ world-leading network.

“The agricultural industry is increasingly using connected technology to increase production and work more efficiently,” says Mayor Windsor. “Even driving a tractor is not as simple as it used to be. There is a lot of connectivity that is needed.”

The gigabit-enabled TELUS PureFibre network is the largest 100 per cent pure fibre-to-the-premise network in Western Canada, giving residents and businesses dramatically fast upload and download internet speeds, which provides significant benefits for applications like video conferencing, working, learning remotely and smart home security.

Reliable, high-speed connectivity became especially critical during the pandemic as local residents joined millions of Canadians in working from home, and schools and universities went online. PureFibre ensured upload speeds did not slow down the pace of business or lag during peak hours, and the rest of the family could simultaneously stream, play video games, and participate in online learning.

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The fibre network also acts as the backbone of TELUS’ wireless network, enabling more wireless capacity and faster speeds throughout the region, and lays the groundwork for 5G technologies in the years ahead. It means residents can use apps like TELUS Health MyCare to access critical medical advice and virtually connect with a registered B.C. physician right from their smartphone, and have prescriptions sent to a pharmacy near them – a bonus for rural residents who often have to commute longer distances to access the care they need.

Mayor Ryan Windsor, District of Central Saanich

“We are well connected from both a transportation and technology point of view, and that is why our little community is thriving,” says Ryan Windsor, Mayor of Central Saanich (pictured). JANIS JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Thriving through connection

Newcomers to Central Saanich and neighbouring communities are bringing a welcome new energy to the entire region.

“The numbers in our elementary schools are good,” says Mayor Windsor. “And you can see it in our Little League and lacrosse teams.”

It’s also apparent in the arrival of new businesses, with high-tech offices cropping up alongside manufacturing and retail centres.

“I recently learned of an international business that is designing remote-health devices. It’s located here, but has offices all over the world,” he says.

Fibre is a key ingredient in what is proving to be a successful recipe that centres on connection.

TELUS PureFibre is now available across Greater Victoria, with network builds reaching completion in the town of Sidney and District of Saanich. TELUS is committed to investing $15.5 million in network infrastructure, operations, and spectrum across southern Vancouver Island this year. The tech company will invest $17.5 billion in British Columbia now through 2026.

"Our community is constantly moving forward and it's essential that our businesses and residents have access to high quality technology to help us all achieve our goals,” says Mayor Fred Haynes, District of Saanich.

The investment could not come at a better time, adds Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. “Not only will it allow residents of Saanich to work, learn and stay connected to family and friends from home, but it will also provide an option for less carbon-intense ways of conducting business and living our lives overall. This will be important as we continue to tackle the effects of climate change on a local level.”

Mayor Windsor notes the changes he is feeling in his own life: As mayor, he works hard to stay in touch with constituents. Reliable connectivity means he is able to receive messages across social media platforms or by phone whether at home, in the office or on the road.

“People reach out to me in a multitude of ways, and they all work seamlessly,” he says. “I enjoy seeing progress in our community, the opportunity to move things forward. I still get a thrill out of that.”

Windsor’s family also runs a distillery, Devine Spirits, producing brandy, whiskey and other spirits from locally grown grains. A fast and reliable network means increased productivity and, critically, the expansion of sales online.

Looking forward, Mayor Windsor says the community has no intention of straying from its rural roots, even as it grows.

“In Central Saanich, we have access to an array of amenities, as well as access to the airport and ferries,” he says. “We are well connected from both a transportation and technology point of view, and that is why our little community is thriving.”

From 2000 through 2021, TELUS has invested $220 billion nationally in network infrastructure, operations and spectrum, including more than $57 billion in network infrastructure, operations and spectrum in B.C.