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.

Just Posted

Some Cumberland businesses closing for climate strike rally Friday

A Climate Strike Cumberland Solidarity Rally is set for outside the Cumberland municipal office

Comox contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

Comox hires former Nanaimo city manager as interim CAO

The position will be for an estimated six months

Cumberland doing more geotech work on dam

Allen Lake assessment shows small area of ‘unsuitable’ material needing more study

Cumberland joins other communities in plastic ban response

Village collaborates with Squamish, Tofino following court’s quash of single-use regulation

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Most Read