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Emergency phone network planned for North Kootenay Lake

Currently when there is a power outage, the phone system goes down
Kootenay Lake at Lardeau, where the community hall will be one of several places emergency phones will be installed in the North Kootenay Lake area. Photo: Submitted

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Valley Voice

Kaslo infoNet’s expansion project to the communities north of Kootenay Lake will have the added benefit of bringing emergency phone service to the region.

Access to a phone seems like a basic service, but north of Kaslo the telephone infrastructure relies on grid power to function. During prolonged power outages, the phone system has gone down.

“I used to work with Search and Rescue here in Kaslo for a few years, and pretty much anytime we got a call from North Kootenay Lake, it was already a couple of hours old because it took a person a few hours to get to a phone,” recalled KiN executive director Isaac Maxfield. “And that’s not ideal.”

So KiN is moving in to fill the gap.

“An unnamed telecom competitor of ours pulled their public payphone out of Argenta without talking to anybody,” says Maxfield. “It was just gone one day. So we were asked if we could put one in there. We did, and that gave us the idea to do that at the other halls.”

So KiN is partnering with the North Kootenay LINKS organization to install a publicly accessible emergency phone in up to nine locations along the new fibre-optic trunk line they plan to install.

“LINKS was able to get grant funding from community-based and emergency preparedness funders we could not access, so we were able to partner with them to install the phones,” he says.

Three of the phones will be in community halls, in Lardeau, Johnsons Landing and Argenta, while the others will be in parks and other public spaces in the area.

The project will take a year or two to complete, said Maxfield.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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