Nova Scotia

Inverness County considers subsidizing cellphone infrastructure

A councillor in Inverness County, N.S., says the municipality may be ready to help subsidize the installation of cellphone infrastructure in the area, if it's reasonable and if it helps make cell service available to residents and visitors.

Councillors say cellphone towers, equipment needed in rural areas for safety of residents and visitors

Coun. Laurie Cranton says Inverness County may be ready to subsidize cellphone infrastructure if it's reasonable and if it helps spread access to cell service. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A councillor in Inverness County, N.S., says the municipality may be ready to help subsidize the installation of cellphone infrastructure in the area.

The county council has voted to issue a request for proposals to get cell towers put up or have equipment installed on existing towers.

Coun. Laurie Cranton, who uses a wheelchair, said the issue hit home for him this past weekend. Cranton was snowmobiling alone and got stuck in an area with no cell service.

"I was just waiting for someone to come and rescue me, which I knew they would," he said. "People knew where I was going to be, so there was no big risk to my health at that point, but I sat there for a couple of hours in the cold and you have some time to think while you're doing that."

Cranton said he could see a tower used for police and emergency communications, but there was no cell service in the area.

Others might not be so lucky

He said the municipality will help pay for the cost of infrastructure, if it's reasonable and if it helps solve the problem.

Cranton was stuck for a couple of hours until someone came along and helped pull his snowmobile back onto the trail, but he said others might not be so lucky.

"There could be a lot of situations that are very dangerous to individuals in many ways, not just someone like myself with a disability, but someone in a car accident, someone that's injured in the highlands, a hunter or fisherman," Cranton said.

Cell service is spotty across Cape Breton Island.

Deputy warden Alfred Poirier said the problem is acute in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Inverness County deputy warden Alfred Poirier says the Chéticamp fire department often responds to calls in the park, which is dangerous because cell service can be non-existent there. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"The Chéticamp fire department is responding, moving into the park with no reception at all, which means that our local fire department are sending out our three best vehicles with our trained men ... and they can't communicate and say, 'OK, truck number three, you can go back and stand by at the station in case something happens in Chéticamp,'" he said.

The request for proposals is expected to be issued in the next few weeks.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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