Roads, cell service among MP’s concerns for emergencies on Haida Gwaii

Following Saturday's earthquake on Haida Gwaii, MP Nathan Cullen on Tuesday released a list of things to help better respond to emergency.

Following Saturday’s earthquake on Haida Gwaii, Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen on Tuesday released a wishlist of sorts to help those on the island better respond to an emergency.

Cullen, who said he felt the quake while on tour in Whitehorse, said he’s heard from people that the lack of island-wide cell service is a major concern.

“Emergency responders simply had no way of coordinating their work outside of the pockets of cell service in major communities.  The lack of mobile communications definitely hindered response and evacuation efforts,” he said.

And, said Cullen, the government needs to look at a secondary road to connect northern Haida Gwaii to the southern parts of the island and establishing an emergency operations centre on the Haida Gwaii.

“While it wasn’t an operational issue on Saturday, the lack of a reliable secondary route became very clear.  Islanders currently depend on a forestry road that may or may not be properly maintained outside of active logging.  This cannot continue,” said Cullen of the dirt road that runs from past Port Clements to west of Queen Charlotte.

“The federal government absolutely has a role to play in shoring up emergency response on Haida Gwaii…I’ll be working closely with local governments and Ottawa for solutions to these problems.”