June 14, 2015 11:36 pm
Updated: August 6, 2016 1:17 am

Steelhead residents regularly without power thanks to copper thieves


WATCH: Some residents in the District of Mission say they feel like they’re living in the past. They don’t get cell reception – and for the fourth time in two months, metal thieves have cut their phone lines.

The community of Steelhead may be just an hour from Vancouver, but sometimes it seems like a world away.

“We don’t have cable service up here, we don’t have fiber-optic telephone lines, and we don’t have cell service. We’re kind of in the land that time forgot,” says Jana Tennant.

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For the last six years, Tennant has been trying to get cable companies, including Telus, Bell and Rogers, along with BC Hydro, Industry Canada and the CTRC, to improve service to Steelhead, a community of 500 in the northern part of the District of Mission, to no avail. And in the last two months, the area’s communication problems have been compounded due to four separate instances of copper theft. A metal thief has been stealing the phone lines.

“We have no 911 capability when those lines are cut. We do not have cell service in this area,” says Michelle Bishop.

“It’s been years. We’ve been trying for years to get something done.”

Residents are calling for the installation of fiber-optic telephone lines to solve the problem of copper theft. For their part, Telus is pledging a crackdown on thieves, with a special team working with local law enforcement to solve the problem.

“We understand it’s really frustrating for our customers to essentially be victims of thieves that are cutting them off from services they depend on,” says Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé.

“Laying fiber isn’t really the best solution. When we do lay fiber, we leave the copper infrastructure there and…sometimes we’ll run services over the copper infrastructure. It gives them enhanced capacity.”

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