Petition for better cell service gathers steam in northwest

Telus says it is already making improvements in the area

A Thornhill business owner is gathering signatures for a petition requesting that Telus improve cell service in the area.

Margaret Rutledge, one of the owners of the Costa Lessa Motel on Hwy 16 in Thornhill, started the petition after saying there’s been no improvements despite years of contact with Telus.

The petition states that Thornhill does not have adequate cell service, something vitally important in case of accidents and emergencies along Hwy16.

I just don’t know that we are considered a top priority,” said Rutledge. “We’re right along a major highway.”

She believes Rogers customers have better reception in Thornhill but isn’t sure about other providers.

As of last week 1,000 people have signed the petition over a three week period. Rutledge says when that number hits 2,000 she will send it in to Telus.

Rutledge said her business is directly affected by lack of cell service, as customers choose to stay somewhere else after finding out their cell phones won’t work in the rooms.

Telus official Shaun Hall said improvements have already started in the Terrace and Kitimat area, with more slated to take place this summer.

These upgrades include visiting sites to install new hardware, which increases capacity and speed.

One of the sights to be upgraded this summer does serve the Thornhill area, and so wireless and internet services in the area will see an improvement.

‘This region and Thornhill is very much on our radar and in our long-term planning,” Hall said.

About $200,000 is to be spent on this summer’s upgrades, in addition to a long-term plan to increase cell service along Hwy16, he added.

Hall explained Telus is searching out locations for cell towers, adding that each installation can cost between $500,000 and $2 million per site.