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Fibre optic project endorsed for Texada Island community

qathet Regional District board supportive of plans to bring high speed internet connectivity to Gillies Bay
GOOD LOCATION: qathet Regional District board voted in favour of a subsea internet connectivity project for Gillies Bay.

qathet Regional District’s (qRD) board has voted in favour of a project that plans to bring high speed internet connectivity to Gillies Bay on Texada Island.

The board carried the motion at its February 7 meeting. Earlier in the day, qRD’s planning committee was supportive of a project and recommended the board endorse the application.

At the February 7 committee of the whole meeting, directors considered a recommendation to the board that the regional district advise the provincial ministry of forests that it supports the communication sites application submitted for the Connected Coast project in Gillies Bay. Conditions are that the applicant ensure minimal disturbance to the foreshore and coastline during the installation phase, and that the applicant be required to provide appropriate signage about the Connected Coast project at the location to outline the duration of the construction onsite, and to ensure the public has adequate notice.

Electoral Area D (Texada) director Sandy McCormick said Gillies Bay is a good location for the fibre optic connection to come ashore.

“There’s a TV tower that’s already located there and it is beyond where most of the houses are,” added McCormick.

She said she had questions about whether it was agricultural land reserve land, so she was wondering if there was any Agricultural Land Commission involvement. She also wondered what the installation would look like when it is installed.

Planner Julia Dykstra said drawings for the project do not show any installation on private land. As for what it looks like, she said she had seen some photos of installation boxes. One version is on the ground, about two feet by two feet in size, with a metal plate cover. The other type of structure is on a post beside a BC Hydro pole that looks like an electrical box.

McCormick asked staff to find out from Connected Coast which type of installation was being planned for Gillies Bay, and also, for Van Anda, which has been identified as a site for a similar project.

“My curiosity is what the whole thing will physically be like, both the part that you see on the land and the part that is underwater,” said McCormick. “I’d appreciate some clarity about that because we’ve had lots of information from the Connected Coast people but not a lot of information about at the end of the day, what is going to be there, and that’s the thing people are asking about.”

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said his concern was that if the cable was laid in a good crabbing or prawning spot, people could pull up a telecommunications cable.

The planning committee voted in favour of the recommendation to send the matter to the regional board for approval.

According to a staff report, the purpose of the project is to provide the infrastructure that has the potential to provide internet connectivity for 139 communities along the BC coast, from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver and around Vancouver Island. When complete, the project will include 3,400 kilometres of subsea fibre optic cable.

The staff report indicates that the applicant states it is not providing internet service, but rather, installing fibre optic infrastructure for service providers to access, should a provider choose to supply the service.

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