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

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Jasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve Smith
New children’s book features lost Castlegar dog who swam the Columbia multiple times

Brent and Mary Hummel and Jasper tell their dramatic story

Coby Reid helped rescue this bobcat from where it had frozen to the train tracks. Photo: Coby Reid
Bobcat deliverer shares details from Kootenay train track rescue

Coby Reid helped rescue a bobcat that was frozen to train tracks near Waneta bridge

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read