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SAR Wants Golden Ears And Chilliwack River Valley/Chilliwack Lake Cell Phone Tower

Ridge Meadows/Chilliwack  Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue is hoping plans for a cell phone tower in Golden Ears Provincial Park will help them find hikers who go missing.

“We are pretty much cut off from the rest of the world,” said Manager Rick Laing.

UPDATE  (Doug Fraser, Search Manager for Chilliwack Search and Rescue, after reading this piece, notified FVN that “We have the same issue in the Chilliwack River Valley through to Chilliwack Lake.

A cell phone works at the start of the road by Vedder Crossing Bridge, but you begin to lose a signal 6 or 7km up the road. The stretch from Tamahi Bridge to Chilliwack Lake (approx 25 km) has no service.

Many of our calls take place in this valley with it containing so many popular hiking, riding, cycling, fishing and swimming areas.)

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue receives 50 per cent of its calls from Golden Ears Provincial Park, which includes Alouette Lake. Laing is now encouraged by Rogers Communications’ efforts to build a tower in the park.

Rick Laing Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue
Rick Laing with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue says rescuers could greatly benefit from improved cell phone service in Golden Ears Provincial Park. (CBC)

“We identify the area as a pothole in our network that needed improvement,” said Darren Hird who speaks for Rogers.

The City of Maple Ridge supports the project. Rogers is now waiting for a permit from the province so it can submit its application to Industry Canada for approval. That could take months or even years.

Still, even if the tower becomes a reality in the park, Laing wants hikers to be prepared for Golden Ears.

“They can’t just go out for a walk in regular street clothes and expect they can make a 911 call and rescue is going to be there within five minutes,” he said.

Richard Robinson, the Commander of the Alouette Power and Sail Squadron emailed FVN:The Alouette Power and Sail Squadron supports our local SAR group and the RCMP in the effort to get better local cell coverage on all of our local lakes.   Last year we had 3 deaths on Alouette and 1 on the upper Pitt Lake area.   It’s unfathomable how many people don’t have their VHF certifications (let alone their PCOC’s!) and rely upon cell phones to get them out of a predicament.”

With files from the CBC’s Kiran Dhillon

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