Funding has been announced to provide cellular coverage along B.C.’s Highway 16, a notorious stretch of road known as the Highway of Tears.
The federal and provincial governments are providing $4.5 million towards the $11.6-million cost to establish cellular service along the entire route from Prince Rupert to Prince George.
B.C. Minister of Citizens’ Services Lisa Beare said the project will give residents peace of mind knowing they can reach out for help if it’s needed.
The need for cellular coverage along the highway was highlighted in the Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendation Report, a list of 33 recommendations for improving safety along the highway and for the First Nations communities it passes through.
Cellphone service was also highlighted in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Eighteen women have been murdered or have disappeared along Highway 16 and adjacent routes since the 1970s.
In a separate announcement, the B.C. government said nearly $5 million in cell service upgrades is coming to Highway 14 on Vancouver Island between Sooke and Port Renfrew, with work expected to be complete by late October.
The Highway 14 improvements will bring cell service to Port Renfrew, Shirley, Otter Point, Jordan River and some Pacheedaht First Nation communities.
— With files from The Canadian Press