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

Slocan Valley fibre optic line progressing through permitting

But the completion date has been pushed back by about a year

Things are moving along with plans to bring high speed internet to the Slocan Valley — though it will be coming to local homes more than a year later than initially announced.

The head of the $7.2 million project says the project is a little like “watching molasses” at the moment.

“I’m not sure how exciting a news story you’ll have, as we are deep in the permitting process,” says Dave Lampron, the chief operating officer of the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation. “But I’ve got no red flags to report, and things are going as planned.”

The project was announced last March. The Basin’s Broadband Corporation, with financing from the province, Columbia Basin Trust and local municipalities, planned to build a 125-kilometre fibre-optic line from the Playmor Junction in the south to just north of Nakusp.

It’s a complex job with some of the line being buried, some laid as an underwater cable, and some strung up on overhead poles.

It would be the backbone line for delivering high-speed internet to communities up and down the valley. Many residents now can only get internet from slower satellite or microwave systems.

A second part of the project will build a similar line in an under-served area in the East Kootenay.

SEE: Rural Kootenay communities to receive high-speed internet upgrade

Since the announcement, the Broadband Corporation has been working its way through the permitting system for the right to build the line.

“Because we have so many permutations of the build — we’re in the Rails to Trails, then in Slocan Lake, then we’re up on the pole system,” says Lampron. “We literally have every single permutation of applications you can think of. So it’s a fairly labourious process that will take some time.”

But Lampron says the good news is they haven’t come across any deal breakers — issues that could block construction of the line or force them to find more expensive solutions.

When officials announced the project, they said they hoped it would be completed in March 2020. That’s been re-thought, and now the estimated completion date is March 2021, a full year later. Construction won’t start until spring of next year.

“We’ve always been attempting to build it as soon as we could,” says Lampron. “But you don’t know when the permitting turnaround will be until you start it.

“Until a few weeks ago, in fact, we were holding on to ‘let’s try to build it inside this calendar year,’” he says. “But then you run into the realities of both issuance and permitting.

“What we stated back in March was true based on what we could forecast on the time,” he says.

Lampron says after getting its permits, the corporation will have to put out tenders and hire contractors to do the actual build.

And that is another unknown — the final price tag on the project. While estimated at $7.2 million, that number will depend on how bids for the project come in and how the weather co-operates with the build timeline.

If all goes well, they hope to break ground on the project sometime between next April and next August, says Lampron. At lot depends on everything from receiving the permits, to consultations with First Nations, to environmental concerns for fish and wildlife in the project’s route.

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

Just Posted

YOU didn’t back check …

Pro hockey player Connor Jones’ inspiring stories on life, hockey and everything in between.

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

B.C. doc breaks down the incognito mosquito

Dr. Carol Fenton is a Medical Health Officer for Interior Health

Work remains to be done in B.C. care homes

BCSLA represents private operators of Independent and Assisted Living, and Long Term Care residences

Police investigating car accident on Rossland Hill

Captain Grant Tyson says the rollover resulted in minor injuries to three people

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read