British Columbia

Cell phone tower proposed for Golden Ears Park applauded by search and rescue

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'

Golden Ears Provincial Park cell phone tower proposed

6 years ago
2:06
Search and Rescue wants improved service to help in rescues 2:06

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 Rick Laing, a manager with the service.

The lack of connectivity means hikers who get lost often try to keep moving to find a location where their device will work. It also hampers rescuers.

"Even a satellite telephone is not reliable enough and consequently if we have to ask for other searchers from other teams or other resources, we have to drive out away from base to make a cell phone call and then return to base," said Laing.

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 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.

With files from the CBC's Kiran Dhillon

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