TELUS is on a mission to increase wireless capacity in rural and urban communities across Canada, ensuring all citizens have access to personal, educational, health, and economic resources. Since 2017, TELUS has invested $4.7 billion into connecting British Columbians, at no cost to taxpayers, reported the Times Colonist.
In a milestone for the wireless operator, the town of Gold River welcomed a new tower earlier this year, following a $2 million investment by TELUS to connect the community, and its 1,500 residents, to its 4G LTE network. Gold River was the last town in British Columbia with a population over 1,000 that was not connected to a network prior to 2020.
Gold River Mayor Brad Unger has been a tireless supporter of connecting his town to the TELUS wireless network. After a harrowing car accident in a remote area that left Unger with 120 stitches, he’s been championing connectivity.
“When you live through an accident like that, you sit back, and you think, ‘You know, it’s very fortunate another car was right behind me. It might have been a very different story,’” he recalls.
Unger knows all too well that the ability to use a cell phone within the village will help save lives. “It’s all about safety,” he says, as habits change with the tower’s presence. “Someone shouted, ‘Call 911’ and I looked around, and everybody had their phone out. Five minutes later, help was there.”
TELUS also built a tower in a neighboring town called Tahsis, surrounded by lush rainforests and steep mountains on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. According to the Times Colonist, the village is more than a two-hour drive from the nearest urban area, and safety has been a concern.
“Safety can be a real issue if there’s a serious health emergency here because of our remoteness and the fact that we have very unsettled weather systems for a good chunk of a year,” says Mayor Martin Davis.
Since the towers were constructed pre-pandemic, both Gold River and Tahsis have benefitted from improved connectivity to keep children connected with teachers and friends, plus residents engaged with loved ones while sheltering in place. Businesses have also benefited from upgraded services, especially since 75 percent of the economy depends on tourism, reported the Times Colonist.
The mayors believe the towers are critical to expanding the economy. “We are confident with improved connectivity that we will have people looking for office space and considering relocating their lives to our small town,” says Unger.