The Barkerville Highway will be a little bit safer for motorists this fall.
Telus is receiving up to $844,000 from the B.C. Government’s Connecting British Columbia Program, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to boost cellular coverage into the community east of Quesnel through an additional six kilometres of service along Highway 26.
The Ministry of Citizens’ Services made the announcement Wednesday, May 5, adding the Jack-of-Clubs Lake rest area will be upgraded to offer Wi-Fi.
“It’s a pretty ambitious goal that the current government has in terms of rolling out cell coverage along a lot of highways and connecting via broadband all of rural B.C.,” said parliamentary secretary for rural development, Roly Russell.
“The project on a whole I believe has been in the works for a very long time.”
Manager of Quesnel Search and Rescue, Gerald Shut said improving cell services along the Highway 26 corridor will help emergency responders who travel the highway. It is used extensively by people in agriculture, mining, logging, ranching and tourism.
Growing up in rural Grand Forks, Russell recalled speaking with his regional fire chief, who told him how difficult it was to not necessarily know where an emergency was.
“This kind of improvement to coverage means first responders are able to do their job more effectively and quickly, and so that’s a huge aspect of it is giving people that peace of mind and comfort knowing that when they’re on the road, they can call in for help when they need it,” he added.
The project is expected to be completed by Oct. 31, 2021.