Alex Turner talked to the SRD board about the need to expand cell phone on the highway for communities like Sayward at a meeting earlier this fall. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Alex Turner talked to the SRD board about the need to expand cell phone on the highway for communities like Sayward at a meeting earlier this fall. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District keeps push on to expand cell service in region

Board dissatisfied with CRTC response from Nov. 1 and will contact federal minister

The Strathcona Regional District is hoping to make headway with the federal minister who oversees wireless communications to expand mobile wireless service on Vancouver Island.

The board has already written to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) this fall about the need for service following a presentation by Alex Turner of the Sayward Futures Society. Turner had called for wireless service through the Hwy. 19 corridor for economic and safety reasons.

RELATED STORY: Sayward residents want cell service along highways

The CRTC sent a response dated Nov. 1 to the regional district’s letter calling for expanded cellular service for highway corridors.

“I went through this hoping I was going to find an answer,” said Charlie Cornfield, one of the Campbell River council representatives. “I got no answer, and I got all kinds of gobbledygook about stuff that’s totally irrelevant to mobiles … to cellular coverage.”

He suggested the SRD needs to continue pushing further on the issue, citing the CRTC response’s own letter on what areas should be covered.

“Major transportation corridors are supposed to be covered by cellular service,” he added. “Hwy. 19 is a major highway transportation corridor.”

Area A Director Gerald Whalley said his interpretation of the situation was the north end of Vancouver Island is not under the CRTC’s jurisdiction, so he suggested the board get clarification.

Concerning safety questions in the meantime, John MacDonald, Sayward’s mayor and SRD representative, said he learned through the RCMP that even if someone is in an area with no cell service, they can still punch in 911 on a mobile phone and it will send a signal to a satellite with the location, though the caller will not talk to a dispatcher.

“I never knew that until a week ago,” he said. “We were told that by the RCMP.”

Other board members asked for the request to cover a broader area. Brad Unger, Gold River’s mayor and director, asked to make sure the SRD makes reference to Hwy. 28 as well as Hwy. 19, while Martin Davis, the Tahsis mayor and SRD representative, wanted a busy stretch and dangerous stretch of road covered near his community.

As evidence of the need for such service, SRD Chair Michele Babchuk referred to a recent incident in which a young man was rescued after several days following an accident in which his vehicle went over a highway embankment outside of Sayward.

READ MORE: Man survived for ‘days’ trapped in smashed truck north of Campbell River

The board passed a motion for the SRD to write to Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, who is responsible for the CRTC, saying the regional district does not consider the CRTC letter of Nov. 1, 2018 adequate and that it wants immediate action taken to address concerns about cellular coverage. The SRD is specifically looking at service for Hwy. 19 and Hwy. 28 along with the Head Bay Forest Service Road near Tahsis.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
SD71 to address COVID-19 exposures with virtual town hall

The meeting is set for Thursday, March 4

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

A public health order has extended the types of health care professionals who can give the COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
‘It’s great that midwives are included’ in rollout of B.C.’s COVID vaccine plan, says college

The order will help the province staff the mass vaccination clinics planned for April

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale, owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Most Read