Five new 9-1-1 emergency call boxes will be installed along a remote stretch of the Alaska Highway in northeast B.C., the province announced today.
The call boxes will be installed at designated pullouts along the highway between Prophet River and Fort Nelson, and Fort Nelson and the Yukon border, according to the ministry of citizens’ services.
As an emergency emergency telephone service, the call boxes will provide access to 9-1-1 service in remote areas without cell service, the ministry said.
"This innovative, cost-effective solution will address a critical public safety concern in the region by increasing access to 911 service at strategic locations along the Alaska Highway," said Fort Nelson Mayor Gary Foster in a statement.
“Moving forward, we will continue working with telecom service providers, Indigenous communities and other levels of government to encourage the rapid expansion of cell and broadband infrastructure in the Northern Rockies because we know how important this is to growing our economy, supporting tourism and improving access to health care."
The five solar-powered call boxes will be located south of Fort Nelson between Fort Nelson and the municipality's southern border, across from the Summit Lake Campground at Stone Mountain Provincial Park, north of the community of Toad River, across from the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, and north of the community of Fireside.
The boxes are programmed to dial 9-1-1 emergency services via satellite, which will be answered and dispatched by Grande Prairie Fire Rescue.
"There are approximately 500 kilometres of Alaska Highway where there is no opportunity to contact emergency services while on the road,” said Jim Hodgson, chief executive officer for Deh Tai Limited, in a statement. “This impacts customers of our hospitality businesses, Liard Hot Springs Lodge and Fort Nelson Hotel, and individuals in our group companies working in remote locations on highways 97 and 77.
“We hope no one has to use the system, but we appreciate the establishment of these facilities for when the need arises," he said.
The project is expected to be completed this year, according to the province.
The call boxes are being jointly funded by the province and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, with $107,000 from the Connecting B.C. program, and $15,000 from the municipality.
Lisa Beare, the provincial minister for citizens' services, said access to 9-1-1 is critical in remote regions like the Northern Rockies.
"We're pleased to be able fund this project in partnership with the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality to install new roadside emergency call boxes along the Alaska Highway corridor,” Beare said.
“As our government continues to work on improving connectivity along our highways, solutions like this ensure people will have access to vital services for personal safety."
Email your letters to email@example.com