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Daily Dose — Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre Undergoing Transformation

Kaslo’s Kemball building, a hub for rural innovation, has received nearly a million dollars for significant upgrades during the next year. — Submitted photos

Correction: May 11, 2022. The Nelson Daily recently received new information regarding this story and apologizes for the inconsistencies in the original piece — published May 5, 2022. The Nelson Daily has corrected and updated the organization behind the funding, how the funding will be deployed, and the space devoted.

Jean-Marc La Flamme, a person instrumental in starting Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre (KLIC), a tenant at Kaslo’s Kemball building, is happy about the infrastructure improvements.

“The Village owns this building. It was pretty shabby. But now we’ll get a big upgrade over the next year.”

La Flamme is keen on the broader implications of the improvements.

“Lots of things are happening in Kaslo. Lots of money is pouring into the community. I think it will be one of those communities that thrives and evolves,” says La Flamme.

Access to a coworking space is one benefit of membership at KLIC, and the coworking space currently has 15 full-time members. KLIC also serves the greater community through a wide range of events. Hundreds of people have attended KLIC events, such as the Summer Music Series, which saw events across various venues last summer in partnership with the Langham Cultural Centre.

“Every weekend from June to September, we have a music series put on by the Langham and KLIC downtown. Last year we did 17 shows, and we’re going to do something similar this year,” says La Flamme.

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Weekly community engagement events and technology programs are offered at KLIC. For example, the organization partnered with the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology for an Investment Readiness Training program.

According to La Flamme, starting a coworking space during a pandemic had its challenges, but it is also timelier than ever. Many new people were interested in moving to idyllic towns like Kaslo during the pandemic, now that remote work is a reality, says La Flamme. With the influx of people into town, La Flamme notices pressure on Kaslo and its services.

“There are just more people,” he says. “So now we realize we have to transform digitally. Luckily, we have an innovation centre where professionals come and meet other professionals and get integrated. Yes, there are major changes, and we have to become innovative.”

One of the most exciting developments upcoming at KLIC is a data centre. Nesbitt explains:

“The idea is to offer open-source alternatives to the big tech offerings like Google and Facebook. Alternatives for collaborative document editing and file sharing and messaging. To bring the sovereignty of our data back locally and make our internet in the region more resilient by having our resources local as opposed to way off in the states somewhere.”

Beyond technological innovations, KLIC aims to be a community hub.

“I encourage people to come out and spend time in the coworking space and meet everybody,” says Nesbitt. 

According to Jean-Marc La Flamme, people like Rose (top photo) and Blair (bottom photo) have flocked to Kaslo's Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre.