Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo penned a letter to Telus regarding concerns of a lack of cell phone and high-speed Internet services voiced by rural communities in the region.
In the letter, Caputo said he would like to better understand why services aren’t extended to rural communities and what solutions may exist. He also invites Darren Entwistle to call the MP’s office to discuss the matter further.
“I have become acutely aware of the under-serviced communities in my riding,” the letter reads. “The mayors and councillors in Barriere, population 1,700, Clearwater, 2,300, and Clinton, 641, each shared the pressing need for these services that so many in urban areas take for granted.”
During tourism season, upwards of 425,000 people travel through or stay in and around Clearwater while visiting Wells Gray Provincial Park, the letter notes. Cell service ends roughly 10 kilometres up the park road, meaning many are without a lifeline during the remaining 36-kilometre drive to Helmcken Falls.
Caputo then points to those who live in Upper Clearwater. For those residents, their options are landline phones and satellite internet providers.
“This means these people and region is entirely cut off from calling for help if there is an emergency outside someone’s home,” the letter reads.
Telus bases service on residential households, Caputo said he’s been told. There may only be 1,100 households in Clearwater, but the formula doesn’t consider the thousands of visitors each summer.
Lack of cell service and internet impedes development in Barriere and Clinton, he writes. In order to offer competitive, innovative services to the rest of the world, these services are a critical link.
Caputo noted the further one leaves from downtown Barriere, the internet is “nearly non-functional.” And in Clinton, workers were forced back into the office during the pandemic because of unreliable internet services. He said Telus itself has said the village is “under-served.”
“I believe the political will exists to tackle these long-standing issues.”