By Marianne Curtis
The RM of Piney has officially requested that the federal and provincial governments step in and ensure that proper cellular service is made available throughout the municipality through an official resolution of council.
“Cellular phone service is an essential and necessary service to the general population, and more importantly to emergency responders and people in need of assistance from emergency responders,” stated council in a letter to both governments and several cell phone providers.
The southeast region contains vast areas that either lack cell service or service in inadequate, explained council.
“All levels of government have a responsibility for preventing the loss of life, harm or damage to health and wellbeing of people, property and infrastructure in the case of an emergency,” council continued.
While municipalities throughout the region have been asking for service for years, an extreme push to improve communications in the region comes as a result of several wildfire emergencies that took place just before Thanksgiving.
“The potential for fatalities was great during the fires,” Stuartburn reeve Jim Swidersky stated. “We want the provincial and federal governments to agree to the need for service and then act on it.”
The R.M.’s of Stuartburn, Piney, Franklin, La Broquerie and Hanover all recently suffered from a massive wildfire event which covered immense portions of the region, during which emergency crews had limited or no access to cellular phone service whatsoever causing delays ins response time to reach or even be aware of fires which surrounded people and properties;
“The lack of cellular service in the area leaves the Municipalities involved in a crisis situation unable to communicate with emergency responders, evacuees, volunteers, and people delegated to travel into areas within the vicinity of the emergency to deliver food, water and necessary supplies,” stated the resolution.
All five municipalities are demanding that the Federal Government, Province of Manitoba, and cellular phone service providers to take immediate steps to rectify this matter and provide the Southeastern region of Manitoba with life-saving consistent cellular service.