Wednesday, August 1, 2018

CityWest partner, Strathcona Regional District to put Connected Coast Broadband plans to Alternate Approval process

The Connected Coast Sub Sea Fibre project is generating a bit
of conversation at a Vancouver Island Regional District

The Highly anticipated Connected Coast project that will create a Fibre optic link from the North Coast to Vancouver Island is going to be put to an alternative approval process, that as CityWest's partner, Strathcona Regional District makes plans to form a stand alone company to deliver the communication infrastructure on Vancouver Island.

The need to go to residents for approval, comes with the decision to incorporate the Strathcona Connected Coast Network Corporation  (SCCNC) by the Stratchona Regional District.

The planned creation of which appears to be somewhat modelled on how both CityWest and the Prince Rupert Legacy Corporation have been set up, with both of those bodies featuring the City of Prince Rupert as the sole shareholder.

At a Board meeting on June 20, Directors passed a bylaw to incorporate the Strathcona Connected Coast Network Corporation (SCCNC). The corporation will operate as a stand-alone corporation, reporting to one shareholder, the SRD Board. SCCNC will consist of a skills-based board and senior leadership team to construct and operate the backbone infrastructure.

The creation of that stand alone company by Strathcona RD also requires the need for a loan authorization bylaw to provide funding for the project if required, though as the Regional District notes, the project is anticipated to be fully funded through federal and provincial government grants.

A notice for residents of Strathcona Regional
District advising of plans for use of the
Alternative Approval process on a bylaw

(click to enlarge)

In the Notice to Strathcona residents, the Campbell River  based Regional Government notes:

The work is proposed to be done through a wholly-owned subsidiary – the Strathcona Connected Coast Network Corporation (SCCNC) - however; the SRD will be required to guarantee completion of the project and operation of the new network for five years. After five years, the SRD may continue operating the asset through its wholly-owned subsidiary, or it may look at other potential business models and options.

Controlling costs will be of absolute importance. The SRD will continue to work with their project partner, CityWest Cable and Telephone Corporation, and have created a strong oversight team that will closely manage the project to completion within the approved grant funding.

Under the project funding agreements, the SRD and its project partner, CityWest, are required to operate the system for the first five years of operation. The project has the potential to present the SRD with possible business opportunities and future revenue streams.

As opposed to a full District referendum on the bylaw, the Alternative Approval Process for Strathcona which was launched on July 23rd will require at least 3,132 residents, which is 10 percent of the regional population, to complete response forms in order to stop the adoption of the bylaw.

The deadline for those response cards is September 4th.

More background on their AAP plans can be explored here.

Not all of the Strathcona RD members are on board with the plan however, as the Campbell River Mirror observes, some concerns have been raised by council members when it comes to the AAP process.

The AAP process is by now one familiar to Prince Rupert residents, as Prince Rupert City Council has used the process a number of times in the past to expedite some of their plans.

Though like in Strathcona, on occasion, some council members have expressed their concerns over the use of the process, as opposed to taking the plans to a full referendum.

In July of 2016, the AAP was used to successfully move a land sale on Graham Avenue forward.

July 18, 2016 -- City to make use of Alternate Approval Process for Graham Avenue Land Sale

The City also the process as part of its boundary expansion plans of four years ago.

January 24, 2014 -- City to launch Alternative Approval Process for Boundary Expansion plan

In 2013, the City turned to the AAP to move ahead in securing a loan for its Airport remediation project.

November 14, 2013 -- Airport Approval Process is ready for take off 

North Coast Regional District has also used the mechanism, most recently as they worked towards changing their name.

March 2018 -- Regional District turns to Alternative Approval Process for name change consultation

As for an update on the Connected Coast project, Strathcona provided a bit of background for its residents on the pace of the work to this point, advising Island residents that the project is still in the planning stages.

The funding was announced in late January 2018, and the partners are currently in the planning stages. We anticipate that the coming months will be spent carrying out project consultation and more detailed planning while also moving forward with supporting studies and reports such as environmental impact and traditional use studies. As we collect more information and better define the project scope and time lines, we will begin sharing that information.

Word of the potential for the project first came out back in the summer of 2017, with CityWest making the formal announcement of the Sub Sea Fibre project to Prince Rupert residents in January of 2018.

Some of our past notes on the Sub Sea Fibre project and the Coastal Connection plan can be reviewed below:

May 4 -- CityWest and Strathcona Regional District launch online home for Sub Sea Communication project
March 1 -- MLA touts CityWest's contribution to Coastal communication links
February 14 -- Sub Sea Fibre project gets shout out from BC Speech from the Throne
January 18 -- CityWest outlines the blue print for subsea fibre plans
August 2017 -- CityWest awaits federal funding decision on subsea fibre plans

CityWest and Stratchona Regional District host a website to provide updates on the project for residents on the North Coast, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island, you can access that portal here.

There have been no local updates on the project from CityWest, since they introduced the new online information page back on May 3rd.

For more notes related to CityWest and communication on the North Coast, see our archive page here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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