Vancouver Island’s Pacific Marine Circle Tour might be a relaxing and beautiful drive – but a local politician says the highway’s lack of cellphone service also makes it dangerous.
The 290-kilometre highway starts and ends in Victoria, with views of the Juan De Fuca, Haro, and Georgia straits. Much of the route weaves through remote wilderness.
Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca’s electoral area director for the Capital Regional District, says more than half of the highway route has no cellphone service.
Hicks concerns heightened recently when the province announced it wouldn’t go ahead with plans for alternative routes for the Malahat highway.
A study, released in December, examined emergency detour routes that can be used when traffic incidents close the Malahat for long periods. Permanent alternate routes were not part of the study’s scope, Janelle Staite, regional deputy director for the B.C. Transportation Ministry, said.
The decision to not go ahead with any new route means in the event of a road closure on either the Malahat Highway or Highway 14, the only alternative route remains is the Pacific Marine Circle.
“If the province is decided on continuing with the Circle route it should ensure that it gets cell service on that route as soon as possible. This is a common sense factor and is critical to the safety of that highway,” Hicks said.
Hicks added he’s working to get that service put into place, but that the assistance of the province would be “hugely beneficial and the responsible thing to do.”
Any mobile service provider can install new cell sites, which would bring wireless and internet connectivity to the area.
Telus was the only cellphone company to respond to an interview request.
Telus provides wireless service along the between Victoria to Sooke, Victoria to Duncan, and Duncan to Lake Cowichan, and is looking at the possibility of expanding service along Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew.
“We will continue to explore opportunities to connect more of the highway in this area in the future, working collaboratively with local and provincial authorities,” said Liz Sauvé, a Telus spokesperson.
– with files from Black Press Media