2021 was another year of steady progress for KiN. Our goal to serve all the north arm communities of Kootenay Lake is getting closer to completion.
During 2021 we finished installing fibre in the south end of lower Kaslo, but just before we could begin our planned work in Shutty Bench the Transportation Ministry suddenly decided to pave Zwicky Road instead of the Back Road (which we had already prepared with fibre). We had to pivot quickly because fibre cannot be buried in that narrow road once it is paved. We secured Ministry permission, created a wiring plan, reallocated fibre and funding from other projects and got our work done just before the paving began. Tyler Hamilton worked on distribution design and Stewart Coonce filed the application, creating drawings and managing the construction.
Then we finally were able to install fibre in Shutty Bench, with all the challenges of greater distance between houses and the three separate connections to the underwater fibre backbone we installed in the previous year. Bueno Bauer with his mini-backhoe was the key to completing that impressive task.
The long power outages of 2020-21 led to a big effort to guarantee power for our network equipment at the Kemball Building and source more batteries for our distribution cabinets. Severe delays and expensive supply chain issues related to Covid complicated and delayed our efforts. However, in cooperation with Kaslo Village, we were able to install a propane-fired diesel generator at the Kemball where Mark Thomson set up the automatic backup system.
now manages 323 wireless and 631 fibre connections and Scott Gillies is steadily connecting new customers and replacing wireless connections with fibre. Throughout the year, if there’s a problem with a wireless or fibre connection anywhere from Howser to Ainsworth, or one of our wireless relay towers runs into trouble, our field support technician Sam Truchon ensures reliable service will be restored quickly. Hillary Schell, our office manager, keeps track of everything a very busy nonprofit essential service provider has to do.
Over the years the KiN Board often found itself involved in management of staff activities, which is inefficient and difficult for volunteers to do, so we are now fortunate to have Isaac Maxfield in the key staff position of Executive Director. He manages KiN’s operation and works closely with the rest of the Board to reach our objective of providing the best possible Internet service to the north Kootenay Lake valley.
The highlighted names above are KiN’s year round staff—I have listed only a sample of what they accomplish. They are the key to everything we do and secret to our success.
Tim Ryan played an essential role in helping KiN to become the first—and so far only—nonprofit Internet Service Provider in all of Canada to provide underground fibre-optic service to the home. After more than a dozen years on the KiN Board, Tim recently moved on to start a new venture, ComXpertise, which aims to duplicate KiN’s success in the rest of the Columbia Basin.
volunteer Board members at present are Josée Bayeur, Jean-Michel Longval, Isaac Maxfield, Don Scarlett and Dan Trobak. We have invited Bob Gazzard and Catherine Gerretsen to join the Board if approved by the membership.