RDCK board, April 15: Fibre-optic proposal for the Slocan Valley

·5 min read

A West Kootenay Internet Service Provider says he can bring fibre-optic-speed service to southern portions of the Slocan Valley years before the Columbia Basin Trust’s fibre-optic trunk line is completed.

He just needs use of a wall on the Passmore Fire Hall.

“To be able to provide faster and more reliable services, we are looking to build a fibre-optic backbone connection to link up one of our main towers up the Slocan Valley which will benefit all of the residences and businesses up the Slocan Valley,” wrote Columbia Wireless CEO Ben Leslie to the RDCK. “The requirements for this kind of installation is somewhere close to the main fibre-optic lines which currently run up the main highway and the location also has to be close to our main Passmore tower.”

The perfect spot, he wrote, is the Passmore Fire Hall.

Leslie has an agreement with Telus to let him tap into their existing fibre-optic line, and he’d set up his radio repeater equipment on the side of the building. His installation would only use the space, would have its own power and would not interfere with emergency communication frequencies.

“Columbia Wireless will be able to provide much faster speeds and reliability to the entire Slocan Valley which will also benefit everyone during the work from home COVID conditions,” he wrote. The proposal is only temporary, and Leslie says he’d hook into the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation fibre-optic line as soon as it’s installed at the same location – in a year or two.

The proposal’s being studied by staff and a report is expected by next meeting. Leslie didn’t reply to Valley Voice inquiries before press time.

Cell study delay

A study to see if the RDCK should consider getting into the cell-phone-tower business has been put off once again.

Area I Director Andy Davidoff asked for and received another two-month’s delay in funding for the study at the last board meeting.

The study would see if there is a business case for the RDCK to install cell towers in unserviced parts of the Slocan and Pass Creek Valleys, two areas with spotty or non-existent coverage.

But Davidoff said he and Area H Director Walter Popoff have an upcoming meeting with Rogers Communications, and if the private company is interested in the project, they will back off on the study.

“We may still need this in June, and if we don’t, it’ll be a happy day,” he told the board.

Funds freed for North Slocan Valley TV

A Slocan Lake area television re-transmitter group is going to get its annual grant early to avoid disruption to customers’ signals.

The Area H North TV Society asked RDCK Directors Leah Main, Walter Popoff and Colin Moss if they could get their annual $7,000 RDCK grant early.

“We have been switching over to digital from analog TV, which will greatly improve the service and cost less in the future,” Secretary-Treasurer Donna Jean Wright wrote in an email.

The grant is usually received in August. However, Wright said the source broadcasters are making the switch to digital sooner than the TV Society had expected, putting them in a cash crunch. Without the funds to do the work now, the society would be unable to rebroadcast at least three TV stations for many months.

The only concern was the request could lead to other groups asking for their money early too – something CAO Stuart Horn said the board was trying to avoid.

“Our overall process is to pay these grants in August, once we have received our taxation funding, so it’s not in our normal course to pay these before that date,” he said. “But the society says it’s urgent, and they need to do it to avoid a halt in service.”

Directors voted in favour of the application. With this year’s grant in hand, there should be very little break in the society’s service, which broadcasts TV over-the-air to New Denver, Silverton, and the surrounding area.

Noise bylaw for Slocan Valley

The noise bylaw was amended to include Area H (Slocan Valley). The bylaw says quiet time is 10 pm to 7 am. Construction activities can take place 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 7 pm on Sundays and holidays.

Nakusp trail repairs okayed

Repairs to a popular skiing, hiking and walking trail outside Nakusp are going to go ahead. The RDCK board approved a $10,722 Community Works Fund grant to the Arrow Lakes Cross Country Ski Club for restoration of the Wensley Creek Trail.

“Within the network of existing looped trails, significant upgrades are needed to improve the safety, accessibility and user-friendliness of this rural, multi-season recreational asset,” says a report from staff.

Trail improvements include extensive brushing and culvert replacements, widening, levelling, grading and mulch installation. A larger parking lot will also be built for users of the 8.2-kilometre-long trail.

“Following project completion, the enhanced works will provide a wider, more level trail system with improved ditching and water control measures which in turn will ensure improved success with winter conditioning and grooming of trails,” says a staff report.

The Wensley Creek Cross Country trails are situated a five-minute drive from the Village of Nakusp, immediately off of Highway 6.

Fauquier water

The RDCK is starting to ramp up planning for a major water project in Fauquier this summer. The board authorized the purchase of just over $155,000 for new watermain pipe for the Arrow Lakes community.

The Fauquier water system is made up of 6.3 kilometres of asbestos cement water main, which is coming to end of life. Just over one kilometre has been identified for replacement based on risk and consequence of failure, and break history.

The pipe will be purchased from EMCO Corporation in Kelowna, which won the contract.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice