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

Crews retrieved the overturned commercial truck from the crash scene on Friday, Nov. 20. Photo: Betsy Kline
UPDATE: Kootenay woman dies in Genelle collision

The incident occurred Thursday, Nov. 19.

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

Photo: Trail Times
Castlegar man and woman arrested in downtown Trail

Police allege the truck they were in had a stolen licence plate on the rear

USA Today ranked the City of Rossland as its top Canadian ski town, and no. 2 in all of North America, while Nelson was ranked no. 10 overall. Photo: Jim Bailey
Rossland and Nelson rank among top North American ski towns

USA Today ranked two West Kootenay communities among Top 10 Ski Towns in North America

Trail RCMP seized illicit drugs, cash and a weapon following a traffic stop in West Trail on Nov. 18. Photo: Trail RCMP
West Kootenay man, woman face drug charges after traffic stop

Police report that three types of illicit drugs were seized as well as cash and a Taser

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Most Read