A plan to bring high speed internet to the Slocan Valley has been delayed three years. Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View

A plan to bring high speed internet to the Slocan Valley has been delayed three years. Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View

Delivery of fibre-optic service for Slocan Valley pushed back three years

Silverton mayor calls news ‘frustrating’

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

People looking forward to high-speed internet in the Slocan Valley and Nakusp are going to have to wait – the company running the project has pushed the completion date back three years.

The Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation now says it won’t complete installation of a fibre-optic line until March 2023 – about three years later than the plan when the project was announced.

“The key factor influencing timing is project permitting, but environmental and habitat considerations are also a factor, and some permits remain outstanding for portions of the planned build,” says the corporation on its website. “CBBC continues to actively work with permitting agencies.”

“Significant progress occurred over the summer in term of receiving permits for the rail trail and the lakes. Archaeological work has commenced on the rail trail and landing sites.”

When first announced in 2019, local politicians had said they wanted the project completed by March 2020. Even then that was seen as an “aggressive” deadline for such a massive project, with more than 120 kilometres of high-speed fibre optic cable being laid from Playmor junction to Nakusp. The cable would be buried underground along the Slocan Valley rail trail, laid along the bottom of Slocan Lake, run along utility poles and laid in Summit Lake to Nakusp, and then laid in the Arrow Reservoir to just north of Nakusp at Shoreholme. The project cost is estimated at $7.2 million.

What CBBC officials had hoped would take a summer to do – permitting – is now expected to take until May 2021. Only after all the clearances are approved can work begin. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2021. Then they project nearly two years’ worth of work to do the installation.

The CBBC updated its website with the new timetable on the project in October, but even as early as the summer the then head of the project, Dave Lampron, had signalled that permitting was slowing things down.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to delays in processing the necessary permit applications and a number of permits remain outstanding,” he wrote in response to Valley Voice inquiries in July. “Construction start continues to depend on permit approval.”

Lampron has since left the CBBC for the private sector. A spokesman for the organization’s parent company, the Columbia Basin Trust, said interviews for a new chief operating officer have been completed and a replacement is expected to be announced this month.

“Frustrating”

“I’m not surprised,” says Silverton Mayor Jason Clarke, who said he had seen briefing notes flagging the new three-year timetable. “But it is frustrating.”

He says the Slocan Valley has been chronically underserved by the big telecom companies.

“We’re starved for high speed, for connectivity, and I think everyone you talk to around here all understand it is a major economic driver,” he says. One project Silverton has pinned a measure of its economic development hopes on – a co-working space for telecommuters – depends on having high-speed internet service.

“High speed is part of the backbone of that kind of operation, if you’re looking to use [a co-working space] as a place to telecommute,” he says.

“Local government and stakeholders agree that faster and more reliable internet is a necessity for our communities to prosper,” adds Ron Leblanc, Slocan Valley economic development co-ordinator. “In these times, especially with the impacts of COVID-19, residents rely on internet more than ever for distant learning, commerce and social connecting through video calls.

“I know all parties are taking connectivity seriously and making it a priority,” he adds. “Delays to this process are unfortunate.”

Despite the delay, Clarke says he has nothing but praise for the way the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation has managed the project on behalf of the communities.

“In my experience, the CBT and Columbia Basin Broadband have been fantastic to work with,” he says. “I firmly believe they are doing their very best. These hurdles aren’t insurmountable, but they definitely have to be overcome.”

Meanwhile, the timetable for the CBBC’s sister project in the East Kootenay has also been pushed back for completion to May 2023. It will see fibre-optic cable installed mainly on utility poles between Jaffray and the US border, south of Cranbrook.

In the recently released CBT Strategic Plan 2020-22, one of the priorities is to “increase reliable, affordable, high-speed connectivity in the Basin with an emphasis on underserved rural areas.”

– Valley Voice

Internet and Telecom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar doctors and mayor urge residents to take COVID-19 seriously as cases are confirmed in the city

“Your doctors would like you to understand we do now have Covid cases here”

There are few details but neighbours a Second Avenue house in Chilliwack say a huge police presence descended on the home after shots were heard. (File photo)
Robson search warrant yields fentanyl and weapons

Search warrant was part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation

Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park, fall 2020. Photo: Submitted
Youth Climate Corps members April Gariepy, Summer Monkman and Linn Murray at work in West Arm Provincial Park. fall 2020. Photo submitted
VIDEO: Kootenay youth climate group works to protect Nelson’s water supply

Youth Climate Corps members spent five weeks thinning forest in West Arm Park

Photo: Black Press file
Trail traffic stop yields stolen cheque investigation

Trail RCMP will continue enhanced impaired driving enforcement this holiday season

Reiner Jakubowski American Peony Society Registrar Nomenclature has named his latest Creation Castlegar. Photo: submitted
New peony hybrid named for Castlegar

Reiner Jakubowski has named his latest peony creation after Castlegar.

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
First long-term care resident dies from COVID-19 in Interior Health

Man in his 80s dies following virus outbreak at Mountainview Village

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read