[This story originally appeared on The North Coast Review, a blog based in Prince Rupert that contains “items of interest to those living on the North Coast of BC.”]
The Province of British Columbia and Federal Government are marking a milestone moment today, with the awarding of additional funding for Rogers Communications to put in place some additional cellular connectivity along the Highway of Tears.
The $11.6 million in funding announced today, will see improvements put in place in areas of weak signal delivery from Prince Rupert to Smithers. As part of this project, Rogers plans to install 12 cellular towers along the highway.
This will provide 252 kilometres of new highway cellular coverage, closing several gaps along this corridor. The project will also provide coverage to three rest areas along Highway 16, located at Boulder Creek, Basalt Creek and Sanderson Point. It is scheduled to be completed in fall 2022.
North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, who has long been advocating for improved cell phone service along the highway corridor, hailed the announcement today, noting how it will offer additional safety along the Highway of Tears.
“As someone who uses this highway regularly and has been stranded once myself, I know how important this project is for the people who travel Highway 16. Not only will this project open up access to communities along this corridor, it will also make it much easier for emergency responders to react quickly when people need assistance,” she said.
Solving the concerns over a lack of cellular coverage was one of the key recommendations of the Highway of Tears Symposium report and today’s announcement was welcomed by Barb Ward-Burkitt, the Executive Director of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.
“We must continue to do everything in our power to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls to ensure they are safe to travel anywhere in our province, but especially between communities along Highway 16,” she said. “I commend the Province, the federal government and Rogers for expanding cell service along the isolated and essential corridor between Smithers and Prince Rupert – it serves as an important step of reconciliation and honouring for murdered and missing sisters, daughters, mothers, aunties and their families.”
More on today’s announcement can be reviewed here.