'Finally, It's 2018 and not 1900': Haida Gwaii village gets cell phone service

Mayor says safety will be improved with the service which is important due to a number of earthquakes and tsunami warnings in recent years.

Efforts to bring cell service to Port Clements, population approximately 280, ongoing for years

The mayor of Port Clements says adding cell service will help business, especially tourism and logging. (CBC)

After a years-long fight, a small village on Haida Gwaii will finally get cell phone service.

Local politicians announced Tuesday that coming in late spring 2019, Port Clements, B.C., will finally have service, thanks to Telus.

"That's a huge deal," Mayor Urs Thomas told Radio West host Sarah Penton. "That's a great moment."

Thomas said efforts to bring cell service to the village, population approximately 280, have taken years.

Local leaders have been lobbying, sending letters and talking to ministers, including recently with Citizens' Services Minister Jinny Sims.

Larger Haida Gwaii communities have had cell service for at least a decade, Thomas said. Before Monday, he was told it might be 10 or 15 years for his community to get it.

"Everyone was pulling in the same direction," he said of the efforts. "It's a great feeling."

Thomas suspects it was simply a business decision to not have cell service in his community. The community has lost several hundred people in recent years, he said.

However, he thinks local businesses will benefit from the move, especially tourism and logging.

He added that safety will be improved with the service which is important due to a number of earthquakes and tsunami warnings in recent years.

"Finally it's 2018 and not 1900 anymore."

Listen to the full interview:

Mayor says safety will be improved with the service which is important due to a number of earthquakes and tsunami warnings in recent years. 5:02

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West