CIRA’s Community Investment Program celebrates its fifth year – Part 4: Building Canada’s internet infrastructure

CIRA is embarking on the fifth year of its Community Investment Program. Canadian not-for-profits, charities and researchers doing good things through and for the internet can apply for a CIRA grant during the application period, which launches on January 15th. To celebrate the program’s success, we are sharing stories of past recipients who have inspired us.

Part 4: Building Canada’s internet infrastructure

CIRA is embarking on the fifth year of its Community Investment Program. Canadian not-for-profits, charities and researchers doing good things through and for the internet can apply for a CIRA grant during the application period, which launches on January 15th. To celebrate the program’s success, we are sharing stories of past recipients who have inspired us.


At CIRA, everything we do contributes to building a better online Canada. So, it’s only natural that through CIRA’s Community Investment Program we support infrastructure projects that put a literal focus on the build portion of our mandate. These projects range from coast to coast and vary in scope, but they share a common goal: to provide a safe, secure, stable and accessible internet.

We’ve highlighted three projects from across Canada that were awarded a Community Investment Program grant for recognizing a gap in our infrastructure and proposing an innovative solution.

Ashlu Creek Foundation

In 2014, the Ashlu Creek Foundation was awarded a grant on behalf of the Community Investment Program to provide high-speed wireless internet to a remote community in the Upper Squamish Valley. This rural residential farming area is nestled between the mountains in British Columbia, making access to stable and reliable internet a challenge. The grant helped the foundation install towers perched on cliffs, providing a line of sight between the Upper Squamish Valley and the nearest town 20 miles away, thus improving the signal strength significantly.

In addition to improving the infrastructure in this region, the Ashlu Creek Foundation used their grant to create a community centre website with important information to enhance community development, environmental protection, and overall quality of life in the region.

Thanks to the $50,000 grant from CIRA’s Community Program, more than 150 residents in the Upper Squamish Valley now have access to the internet. The Ashlu Creek Foundation did their part in bridging the digital divide in Canada. By doing so, they ensured the tools needed for economic development, enhanced social and education opportunities, improved emergency response, and increased democratic participation were available to residents of the Upper Squamish Valley.

Peace Region Internet Society (PRiS)

The Peace Region Internet Society received a grant from CIRA’s Community Investment Program in 2016 in an effort to bridge the wireless divide in Saddle Hill County, Alberta. At the time, members of this small community were without internet, delaying their progress and development as a community overall.

PRiS embraced a two-prong approach in dealing with this issue. By adopting new wireless technologies and using licensed frequencies, PRiS was able to equip Saddle Hill County with three towers directly along the Alberta / British Columbia border. This has helped pave the way for a substantial increase in population growth, resulting in a more vibrant, prosperous, and connected community.

Halifax Internet Exchange (HFXIX)

CIRA has long been a supporter of creating internet exchanges across Canada. Many Canadian internet service providers (ISPs) currently employ north-to-south transit pipes to transmit data, relying on hubs in the United States. While it’s great that data can travel across international borders when it needs to, when data is moving between two Canadian points, this can be cumbersome and costly. Canada’s Internet Exchange Point (IXP) network is a key component and solution to improving the integrity and reliability of the internet in Canada.

In 2014, CIRA’s Community Investment Program awarded the Halifax Internet Exchange (HFXIX) a grant to purchase core switching and hosting equipment. With the grant they received from CIRA, HFXIX provided better internet performance at reduced cost and with less risk for users in Halifax and across Nova Scotia.

Now three years later, HFXIX is still thriving. In January 2017, they signed on one of the world’s leading content delivery providers – Akamai Technologies. With this partnership, institutions peering at HFXIX are directly networked with Akamai and all the clients it serves. That includes the world’s top 20 e-commerce sites, one-third of Fortune 500 companies and the top 30 media and entertainment companies across the globe, to name a few.


About CIRA's Community Investment Program

CIRA is building a better online Canada through the Community Investment Program by funding innovative projects led by charities, not-for-profits and academic institutions that are making the internet better for all Canadians. CIRA is best known for our role managing the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians. While this remains our primary mandate, as a member-based not-for-profit ourselves, we have a much broader goal to strengthen Canada's internet. The Community Investment Program is one of our most valuable contributions toward this goal and funds projects in infrastructure, digital literacy, research and online services. Every .CA domain name registered or renewed contributes to this program. To date, CIRA has supported 102 projects with over $4.2 million in contributions. The application period for funding opens on January 15, 2018. Visit cira.ca/cip to learn more.

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