In what is seen by many as a welcome move, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has partnered with Telus and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) to bring Wi-Fi to 25 select rest stops throughout the province.
“Our rest areas are critical to the tourism industry, as well as the commercial trucking sector by allowing drivers to rest and access washroom facilities,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone in a media release.
The ministry has committed $9 million in funding over three years to improve the safety, comfort, and convenience of rest areas.
One of the first five locations selected to receive Wi-Fi is Galena Bay, 49 km away from Nakusp. It was chosen because it is a known location where cars have to queue in line for the Shelter Bay ferry, and had electricity already at the location.
“Today motorists line up along the highway while waiting for the ferry to Shelter Bay,” said Sonia Lowe, public affairs officer for the ministry. “We expect locals and tourists waiting will appreciate the addition of Wi-Fi so they can check their e-mail, and access internet while they wait.”
Travellers will be able to identify which rest areas have Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi graphic on the rest-area sign.
Along with providing drivers with access to Internet, it is hoped the Wi-Fi locations will help reduce certain safety issues on the highway.
“More than 800 crashes occur every day in B.C., many of these caused by distracted driving,” said Mark Blucher, president and CEO of ICBC. “We need help from all British Columbians to help keep roads safe. By driving safely and following the rules of the road, you can help lower our claims costs and directly lower the rates you pay.”
Work at the rest stops will be weather dependent, but the goal is to install Wi-Fi at the first five sites as soon as possible, with the goal of having most of the 25 sites chosen be operational by the spring of 2017.