Although we now live in a very connected world, there are still highways in B.C. where cell services is scarce to non-existent.
One of those highways is Hwy 95 in the Kootenays, which runs north to south from Cranbrook to Golden.
The provincial government recently announced that funding was being made available to improve cellular service on Hwy 95 and in the north on Hwy 97 in the Chetwynd area.
“While miles apart, these two highways have many things in common. They can have difficult winter driving conditions, they’re prone to sudden road closures and they have large gaps without cellular service,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “We can’t change the weather, but we can make strategic investments to help expand highway cellular service in B.C. With these latest projects, we are on track to more than triple our target to increase highway cellular coverage, making our highways safer than ever before.”
The government will provide funding to Rogers to improve service. Up to $5.47 million from the Connecting British Columbia program will go to filling in cellular gaps on Hwy 97.
Rogers will receive an additional $774,000 to improve service along Hwy 95 between Golden and Spillimacheen. This work will include improved coverage at the Braisher Creek rest area and in the communities of Nicholson, Parson and Harrogate.
“Rogers is proud to continue investing in British Columbia on these highway connectivity projects to build critically needed 5G networks to bridge the digital divide in partnership with the B.C. government,” said Dean Prevost, president, Connected Home and Rogers for Business. “Connecting Canadians, including rural, remote and Indigenous communities, is a top priority for Rogers. Through this partnership, we are providing improved safety and reliable connectivity for those who depend on highways 95 and 97, while creating new jobs and supporting B.C.’s economy.”
Funding from the expanded program has successfully encouraged the expansion of cellular service along 429 kilometres of highways throughout the province, increasing safety and convenience for people travelling along routes like Highway 14 on Vancouver Island and Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George.
The Connecting British Columbia program provides grants that help service providers with the cost of expanding connectivity and making it more reliable in rural and Indigenous communities. The program is delivered by Northern Development Initiative Trust.
“I want to extend my appreciation to the Province of B.C. for investing in this vital infrastructure,” said Gerry Wilkie, Area G director, Regional District of East Kootenay.. “Not only will it significantly improve safety and connectivity for residents and travellers, it will provide this service at a time when it is critically needed due to increased traffic during the Kicking Horse Canyon project.”