Locals and travellers will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of cellular service along a large stretch of Vancouver Island’s Highway 14.
Cellular service is being expanded to include a 70-kilometre stretch of Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew. This will increase safety for residents and travellers, while enabling people to connect with each other in a way they have never been able to before on that stretch of highway.
“Whether you are lucky enough to live in Otter Point or are heading out to explore the Juan de Fuca Trail, a cellular signal provides peace of mind knowing that you can stay in touch and call for help if it’s needed,” said Premier John Horgan. “As part of our work to build a stronger B.C. for everyone, this investment will make a real difference for people by enhancing access to services and making it safer and easier to navigate one of our beautiful coastal highways.”
The Connecting British Columbia program was expanded in September 2020 as part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. For the first time in the program’s history, a mandate was included to improve access to cellular for people in rural and Indigenous communities. This helped make the Highway 14 project a reality.
The project will bring cellular service to the doorsteps of people in Port Renfrew, Shirley, Otter Point, Jordan River, as well as some Pacheedaht First Nation communities.
A highway rest area near the entrance to Sombrio Beach will also be upgraded to provide a Wi-Fi connection, enhancing safety and convenience for people passing through or coming to enjoy a view of the ocean.
“Cellular connectivity helps keep the world at your fingertips whenever you leave home. Being able to check your location on a map, plan your route, call home or access emergency services can make all the difference while travelling,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This investment will make this area of the island more accessible to people, knowing they can use their mobile devices whenever they need to along this route.”
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.
“We, like so many emergency responders, have come to rely upon cellular service for voice and data communications. Many online resources enhance our capability and response to people who may be having a life-threatening emergency,” said Vickie Weber, senior manager, Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue. “We are very excited by this announcement and know it will have a significant impact on any search and rescue emergency along this route.”
Rogers Communications Ltd. has been selected to receive up to $4.9 million from the Connecting British Columbia program towards the cost of building the infrastructure.
“Rogers recognizes the critical importance of closing the connectivity gap and making 5G a reality for all British Columbians,” said Dean Prevost, president, Connected Home and Rogers for Business. “The connectivity investments announced today in collaboration with the B.C. government will contribute to safer travel for those who depend on Highway 14, an essential connection for the people and the economy of southern Vancouver Island.”
Work on the Highway 14 cellular project is scheduled for completion by Oct. 31, 2021.
- StrongerBC included a one-time $90-million grant to the Connecting British Columbia program in support of expanding high-speed internet access and cellular in rural and Indigenous communities.
- The cellular coverage included in this project is expected to reach approximately 1,258 households in the region.
StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
Connecting British Columbia program: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/fundingprograms/partner-programs/connecting-british-columbia
Connectivity in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/connectivity-in-bc