Fibre-optic cable will be installed up the Slocan Valley, starting in spring 2020. File photo

Fibre-optic cable will be installed up the Slocan Valley, starting in spring 2020. File photo

Permitting process delays Slocan fibre-optic line

Work may not be done until summer 2021, more than a year after initial completion date

Fibre optic cable may carry internet signals at the speed of light — but getting that cable installed is a considerably slower process.

With only a few weeks left before the initial projected completion date, permitting delays are pushing the project back a whole year.

“We continue to work hard to acquire the necessary permits and expect construction to begin in the fall/winter of this year,” writes Dave Lampron, chief operating officer for the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, the company behind installing the high-speed internet line up the Slocan Valley.

It’s a big difference from the initial — and admittedly ambitious — completion date of March 2020, given when the project was announced in March 2019.

“The province would like to see a March 31, 2020 completion date. It’s an aggressive timeline, but we’re going to do everything we can to meet those timelines,” Lampron said at the news conference announcing the project.

But the paperwork involved in planning the fibre line — which will run over land, under water, and on power lines — has proven complex and intricate.

Awaiting final approvals

While public reviews and consultation have gone reasonably smoothly, getting final approvals from the agencies involved has proven time-consuming.

In a report to council quoting CBBC officials, Nakusp Mayor Tom Zeleznik says in one instance, the corporation received a notice of final review from the province for a licence of occupation months ago. But that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal:

“In order to meet all the final deliverables to receive the final license of occupation, we need to receive approval from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC has indicated that response expected in early February) and demonstrate that we’ve obtained a Heritage BC site alteration permit (permit application submitted),” it explains. “Timelines associated with receiving both the ALC and site alteration approvals are of course outside of our control. We hope to have all the permit dependencies wrapped up in the spring/summer and have the license of occupation executed.”

Other portions of the route require water permits, or are under review by First Nations or other provincial departments.

Telus delays

One of the biggest sticking points at the moment is the segment from Hills, north of New Denver, to Nakusp, where the idea was to use Telus’ utility polls to carry the fibre.

“The aerial/pole access component is reliant on a request currently in Telus’ queue to determine an estimate for utility pole ‘make-ready’ costs,” says the report to Nakusp council.

“Unfortunately, despite numerous escalations we’ve had no tangible updates from Telus on this application.”

The report indicates the Broadband Corporation is looking for work-arounds should Telus be unwilling to share their poles.

Telus told the Arrow Lakes News they’re aware of the request, but can’t give the approval yet.

“CBBC first approached Telus in the middle of last year to inquire about placing their fibre on the Telus allocated space on the BC Hydro/Telus jointly owned poles,” said Liz Sauvé, a spokesperson for Telus.

“[S]ome of the poles need to be modified to support the weight of the additional cable. Given the time of year, the snow has presented some challenges for Telus and BC Hydro to safely and accurately complete the assessment, and in some areas we need to wait for about four feet of snow to melt before we can accurately assess and reinforce the base of the poles.”

The delay has the broadband corporation considering its options.

“The CBBC team has begun reflecting on a possible Plan B in the event that the Telus application doesn’t come to fruition,” the report says. “Due to the slow process we may not begin the Hills to Nakusp line until middle of summer of 2021, so possibly two years away yet.”

Other portions of the project are moving along, however. The corporation recently issued request for proposalsfor the different segments of the project’s construction — underground, submarine and aerial. Those RFPs close this month.

Depending on how the permitting goes, however, it’s not likely that work will begin until late this year.

“[G]iven weather, environmental and recreation construction windows the most precise we can be at this stage is to provide a range: construction will likely take place between in the fall/winter 2020,” the CBBC report says.

Lampron said in other interviews that once the permitting process is complete, construction of the 125-kilometre, $7.2 million project should be reasonably quick.

Internet and Telecom

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

Just Posted

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

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

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 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(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

Most Read