Cellphone service may finally arrive in Port Clements.
Telus Corp. recently applied to build a 30-metre tower for wireless voice and data services at 22 Park Street, just across the road from the Port Multiplex.
If it goes ahead, Port Clements will join the rest of Haida Gwaii in having reliable cellphone coverage, 12 years after it arrived elsewhere on the islands.
“It’s really good news,” says Mayor Urs Thomas.
“If everything goes well, we’ll probably have a cellphone tower up by the end of October or November.”
A Telus spokesperson declined a request for an interview about the project, noting that its application to build a tower is currently under review by Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED), and also open for public feedback.
A notice about the proposed tower was recently mailed to nearby residents, and comments can be emailed to email@example.com until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27.
“After reviewing all of the feedback from residents, we’ll be in a better position to share our next steps and an estimated timeline of when the tower may be operational,” said Liz Sauvé, a Telus spokesperson, noting that local feedback has been positive so far.
In January, Port Clements councillors wrote the CRTC, the B.C. and the federal governments calling for cell service in the village and other rural areas on Haida Gwaii.
Councillors said better cell service might have aided the recovery of a missing person in 2015, and would have sped up the rescue of two lost hikers the same year.
Even if Port is a bit of a refuge for overworked islanders and others who want a break from buzzing phone alerts, councillors also said the lack of coverage puts the village at a disadvantage for attracting tourists and also makes it harder for residents to access services such as online banking.
“It’s quite important for businesses, for tourism and everything else,” Thomas said last week, adding that it would also make it easier for residents to get tsunami warnings and other emergency alerts from Haida Gwaii’s ePact system.
Although it remains unclear exactly what the range of the cell tower might be, Thomas said he hopes there will be some highway coverage, noting that the land is fairly flat between Port Clements and Tlell, and that service should also be improved for people on the water in Masset Inlet.
So far, the only one who may be unhappy about the proposed cell tower is Thomas’ dog.
For years, dogs in Port Clements have enjoyed many long walks to the Yakoun birdwatching tower and the end of Rainbow Wharf where, on a good day, their humans can pick up a single-bar of signal from the cell tower in Masset.