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Letters to the Editor

A reader writes about TELUS’s failure to maintain communication service during wildfires

Dear Editor,

The TELUS land telephone lines, Internet, and cellphone service in the Spences Bridge region have been out since Aug. 16, putting people at great safety risk. TELUS brought in a very poor back-up cell service system, but many people cannot use it, because they either don’t have a cellphone or [the back-up system] is a piece of junk and cuts out or just does not work.

This is putting people at great safety risk, as 9-1-1 is not usable for all, the BC Wildfire Service cannot be contacted, students cannot complete online studies, businesses are suffering due to a lack of contact with customers, people are unable to participate with online politics, and people with health needs are having difficulty communicating for advice, drugs, and medical appointments. Only a few people with high-cost satellite Internet are not affected by this completely avoidable TELUS communications fiasco incident, which seems to happen repeatedly across B.C.

In other provinces, fibre optic communication lines are generally buried where possible, as buried lines are not susceptible to fire, tree blow-downs, winter storms, or car accidents. Communication lines can be buried on the side of, or in, roads as well. As TELUS is a poor service corporation, they are putting up communication lines on wooden power poles in fire zones even where they could be buried.

This is absurd in the new global warming era, and TELUS is putting people at great risk of death with its poor corporate strategy. Premier Horgan needs to ensure communication mainlines in this province are buried where possible to ensure people have communication services when needed during fires.

It has been rumoured that 40 communication line poles burned in the Nicola Valley. It would not take four+ days to replace 40 wood poles in the Vancouver area, but outside of Vancouver service discrimination becomes an issue. The BC Wildfire Service could easily drop water at pole locations with a tanker or helicopter to ensure worker safety in pole installations.

If TELUS is using an excuse that fire is slowing pole installation down, that is not acceptable, as there has been no major burning going on since the last rainfall last weekend [Aug. 16]. Nicola Valley residents suggest there is no major fire threat this week in the Nicola that cannot be managed safely, therefore there is no excuse not to install poles or bury communication lines quickly.

In fire seasons, TELUS should at least ensure the communication lines on burnable power poles are protected by removing flammable vegetation around the poles with a weed whacker so they don’t burn so easily, or put fireproof material around the base of the poles. This is cheap to do for such a cheap corporation, and Horgan can mandate it if he so chooses, once he gets off vacation and his arrogant rural discriminatory mind trip.

As electronic money is not usable in the outage area, cash is king. This is yet another warning for all people to carry cash in the event of a disaster that renders electronic money unusable.

James Kohut

Spences Bridge, B.C.


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Letter to the Editor