Highway 3 near the Paulson Summit. Photo: DriveBC

Highway 3 near the Paulson Summit. Photo: DriveBC

Regional ask for cellular service creation along Paulson Summit, Highway 3 falls short

Province says ask the cell providers

by Timothy Schafer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

The regional districts’ plea for the creation of cellular service along Highway 3 won’t be answered by the province.

In asking the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General for an increase in cellular infrastructure — towers and, thus, service — along the full length of the Highway 3 corridor, the board of directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) were told to look to the service providers for answers.

In a letter to RDKB chair Linda Worley, assistant Deputy Minister of the Connectivity Division, Susan Stanford, said telecommunications were federally regulated in Canada by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“While the province cannot instruct service providers as to when and where they make their investments, we support the expansion of connectivity through the Connecting British Columbia program which is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust,” she wrote in her letter.

She said the three service providers that invest in cellular networks in the province — TELUS, Rogers and Shaw — might have projects planned for the area and could include cellular along Highway 3, or had projects that could be expanded to include cellular in needed corridors.

“We would encourage you to connect directly with service providers to see if any projects are planned for areas near or on Highways 3 and 33,” Stanford wrote. “The Connecting British Columbia program is currently open to applications that expand cellular service.”

With the prospect of increased traffic along Highway 3 the regional districts had asked the province to address the lack of infrastructure along the roadway, requesting cell service and towers to be added to the full length of the Highway 3 corridor “to facilitate the safety of travelers and first responders.”

It was noted that cell service carriers have access to “cellular on wheels” (COW) units that could be deployed to fulfill the request.

With the indefinite closures of Highway 1 and Highway 5 — due to the flooding events of Nov. 14 — the province declared Highway 3 would be the main corridor for transport to and from the Lower Mainland, but with an expected 525 per cent increase in traffic.

As a result, there is major lack of infrastructure to support the increase in traffic with cellular tower sites along Highway 3, the Paulson Summit and Highway 33.

Ramping up

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) data for the three main highways leading into the Lower Mainland recorded the following daily averages in November 2019:

• Hwy 3 (past Hope) had an average daily vehicle volume of around 2,000;

• Hwy 1 (Fraser Canyon past Hope) had an average daily vehicle volume of around 2,200; and

• Hwy 5 (past Hope) has an average daily vehicle volume of around 8,500.

That means Highway 3 could see 12,500 vehicles per day, which represents a 525 per cent increase.

Source: RDCK staff report

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