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$82-million project bringing better internet to 59 Kootenay communities

Communities from Edgewood to Grasmere to Donald to benefit from project
L-R: Columbia Basin Trust President Johnny Strilaeff, Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, B.C. Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare, RDCK Area H Director Walter Popoff and Columbia Basin Trust board chair Jocelyn Carver joined together on Sept. 7 to announce the $82-million project. Photo: Betsy Kline

Thousands of Kootenay residents will see improved internet connectivity thanks to an $82-million project being funded by the federal and provincial governments, the regional districts of Central Kootenay, Columbia Shuswap, Kootenay Boundary, East Kootenay and Columbia Basin Trust.

The Connect the Basin project covers 5,429 rural households in 59 communities.

“The internet is an essential service for all of society, but unfortunately, we still have areas of the Columbia Basin that do not have access to the same level of high-speed connectivity and reliability as more populated communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Trust president and CEO.

“The Trust is pleased to partner in addressing this gap and in helping bring fibre optic infrastructure to over 5,400 rural households across the Basin.”

The project includes expansion of the Trust’s fibre optic network to establish a last-mile network — infrastructure that internet service providers can use to deliver high-speed internet to customers.

Underground, submarine and aerial installations will be used based on what is best for each area.

Installation work will be done by qualified contractors through tender processes.

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Communities that will benefit include: Appledale, Cassimayooks No.5 (ʔaq̓am), East Arrow Park, Edgewood, Elko, Fauquier, Field, Fort Steele, Kicking Horse, Lemon Creek, Monroe Lake, Nelway, New Denver, Passmore, rural Slocan, rural Salmo, Skookumchuck, Slocan Park, Tobacco Plains (Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it First Nation), Winlaw and rural Ymir.

Eligible households were identified according to requirements set by the federal government based on areas they identify to have internet speeds that are less than 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload.

The Trust says it applied for as many households as it could that were deemed eligible by the federal/provincial governments.

New infrastructure may not be deployed throughout an entire community but rather in specific, federally eligible areas.

For a map of where the fibre builds will take place visit:

The project is expected to wrap up by spring 2027.

Once complete, residents will be able to connect with a local internet service provider to sign up for service.

Costs and packages available will be determined by individual service providers.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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