Provincial government statistics indicate that approximately 3,000 people reside in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area E. The Ministry of Transportation, however, has stated that on a peak travel day in August 2014, more than 2,500 vehicles travelled Highway 33, which makes the availability of cellular telephone service vital for the area.
According to concerned resident Jeff Sarsons, while signs on the highway suggest that emergency 911 service is available along the route, that service, provided by Telus, is not sufficient to fully and consistently utilize 911 services.
“Most residents now have cellular telephones,” said Sarsons, “but we cannot use them in the majority of rural areas within the RDKB. This became particularly evident during the firestorm of last August.”
To bring awareness to residents’ frustrations with cell phone service, Sarsons has set up an online survey designed to gauge the degree of the disatisfaction and present the results to both Telus and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area E/West Boundary Director Vicki Gee. While Telus has made ongoing announcements regarding expansion of cellular service along both primary and secondary routes, it has yet to improve coverage in several parts of the fire-struck area.
“I am aware that Telus have cellular sites on their planning horizon for this area,” said Sarsons, “but in my opinion, the lack of communications during the firestorm of 2015 proves that we need action now, not two, four or six years down the road.
“The traffic on Highway 33 alone demands better coverage, not just Rock Creek, Beaverdell, Big White and Joe Rich.”
The survey can be found at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/5WY7WTH.