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

Victim of downtown Courtenay assault dies from injuries

RCMP confirm file is now a homicide investigation

North Island College’s annual 3-Hour Fiction Contest returns

Two competitions; one for adults, one for U-18 writers

Comox Valley’s drinking water within lead guidelines, say staff

Residents with old homes may still want testing if concerned about pipes, solder

Denman ferry cable to be replaced with plastic cable – for now

The first flattened steel strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020

Cumberland holds off transfer of ‘alleyway’ property to homeowner

Village cites need to protect alleyways, while staff cite encroachment issues

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Comox Fire Rescue donates defibrillator to St. George’s United Church

Comox fighters have donated an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to St. George’s… Continue reading

Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

DFO says four Cermaq Canada salmon farms affected, fish not infectious

Three cops investigated in connection to ex-Vancouver detective’s sexual misconduct

Fisher was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to kissing two young women who were witnesses in a criminal case

Violence response procedures updated for B.C. schools, police

ERASE program expands to target gangs, bullying of students

A pawsitive ending: Missing puppy found after nine-day search in Chilliwack

Pit bull Frankie ran from dog sitter booked through app

Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011

Most Read