Faster internet and tougher invasive species protection

Columbia Basin Trust receives new funding for high-speed Internet and three new invasive-mussel fighting crews.

Chelsea Novak

Rossland News

Columbia Basin Trust announced this week it is receiving funds under two new government programs, one federal and one provincial.

The first, announced on Thursday, is the Connecting Canadians program, which will provide $3.34 million to bring high-speed internet to 11,000 households in the Kootenay region, including rural Rossland.

The federally funded project will deliver Internet speeds of up to ten megabits per second, and should be complete by the end of 2017.

The press release included a statement from Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks. “This is great news for the Kootenays and shows that the Government of Canada understands the importance of high-speed Internet access for our communities and people,” it read. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to delivering for rural Canadians.”

The second, announced on Friday, is the Invasive Mussel Defence Program, a partnership led by the BC Ministry of Environment.

Columbia Basin Trust will be able to provide three additional inspection and decontamination crews thanks to $360,000 in new funding.

The new crews, located in Cranbrook, Valemont, and Nelson, will inspect boats to make sure they are free of zebra and quagga mussels. Both are invasive species that “pose a significant threat to Canada’s freshwater ecosystems,” and though neither species has ever been found in BC, the provincial government wants it to stay that way.

“Invasive mussels pose a threat to more than just ecosystems, but to drinking water facilities, hydro stations, agricultural irrigation and more,” reads a statement from Bill Bennett, MLA for East Kootenay. “This funding boost from Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and FortisBC allows the Province to further strengthen efforts to stop zebra and quagga mussels from entering B.C.”