Coalmont launches David and Goliath battle with Telus

Phone company says it won't replace pay phone destroyed in attempted murder

The little village of Coalmont is making headlines across the province as it mounts a David-and-Goliath style battle with Telus over the replacement of its public phone booth.

While a spokesperson for Telus was emphatic last week that the phone booth –damaged in an attempted murder two months ago –will not be reinstalled, the RDOS says it’s still negotiating with the telecommunications giant.

“The Regional District is working with Telus to try and get something sorted out and to get it replaced,” Area H director Bob Coyne told the Spotlight Monday.

“We seem to be having a bit of an issue and we really don’t know where it is going,” he said. “Our emergency services department is working on it, that’s as far as I can go.”

The fight for a new phone booth began the day after Coalmont’s only 24-hour access public pay phone was destroyed when it was struck by a speeding car, injuring a man who was using the phone to make a call. Rolly Giroux was later charged with attempted murder in connection with the incident.

Bob Sterne, who operates the village’s Mozy On Inn with his wife, emailed Telus representatives repeatedly with requests for information about a new phone booth. In an interview with The Spotlight he said responses were infrequent and inconsistent.

“We basically kept the pressure on Telus,” said Sterne, who also circulated a petition that received the support of about 50 people in writing and on-line. Coalmont has a permanent population of approximately 100.

“Last week Telus gave us their final answer that they will not be replacing the phone booth.”

Sterne said 24-hour access to a public pay phone is critical as Coalmont has no cell phone service, and with its proximity to a popular section of the Trans Canada Trail it needs a pay phone in case of emergencies for

“If you are using the trail or coming through Coalmont on the road it was an excellent location for being able to reach emergency services. That’s the only pay phone that’s accessible 24-7 to the public,” he said.

“I know for a fact last year it was used exactly for that. There was an ATV accident and the guy was so badly hurt he was covered in blood and either he or a friend of his got to the phone and called 911 and they actually airlifted him out of here by helicopter. He probably figures that phone booth saved his life.”

Sterne said there are many people in Coalmont who don’t have phones in their own homes, either because they can’t afford them or they are only part-time residents.

Liz Sauve, a spokesperson for Telus, told the Spotlight in a phone interview the decision to not replace the phone rests on its low usage, and the fact that the phone has had to be repaired or serviced several times in the past few years.

“We have heard some of the concerns from residents and we very much understand them,” she said.

Sauve said Telus maintains a public pay phone inside the Coalmont Hotel, which is open daily from noon to 11 p.m., and outside of those hours “they would be more than willing to open the doors and provide someone with access if they need 911.”

Telus operates approximately 10,000 pay phones in BC and Alberta.

“There is no mandate to phase these phones out,” she said. “Nor do we have a mandate from the CRTC to operate emergency phones.”

Replacing the phone would cost $5,000 said Sauve “and the phone in that area has been vandalized a number of times in the past.” She said records indicate the phone has been used “on average over the last couple of years, maybe a phone call a week or every couple of weeks.”

According to Sterne residents in the community dispute both those facts. “Nobody I have talked to is aware of any time that phone has been vandalized except for one time about five years ago when the handset was ripped off.”

He also said the phone is used much more frequently that Telus is willing to acknowledge. “There are people who live here in town who use that phone on a daily basis.”

In addition to circulating a petition and speaking with regional, provincial and federal government representatives, Sterne has also filed complaints against Telus with the CRTC and the Better Business Bureau.

“This is a drop in the bucket for Telus,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read