White Rock’s iconic pier was destroyed after a Dec. 20 windstorm. (Douglas Shi file photo)

White Rock still without cell service after Dec. 20 storm

Residents voice concerns about cell reception disruption

Concerns about safety and loss of revenue are being voiced three weeks after a severe windstorm caused destruction in the City of White Rock and knocked out cell service to many residents and businesses.

Primo’s Mexican Grill general manager Samantha McQuade contacted Peace Arch News to raise awareness about the impact to the business, while others have noted safety concerns with the cell-service disconnect.

McQuade, who wasn’t able to provide a phone interview due to the disruption Wednesday, told PAN at the restaurant that customers who want to use Primo’s catering services have been unable to connect with restaurant staff.

Although Primo’s has a landline, McQuade said, their business cards for catering display cellphone numbers.

She also said the restaurant is losing lunchtime customers because there’s no cell service, especially if the customers need to stay connected for work-related purposes.

“At this time of the year, and with the exponential factors stacked against us on White Rock beach, catering is essential,” McQuade said. “Our customers have no where to park and the beach is a mess, but they’re still trying to support us. Take-out and catering options are essential to help alleviate the losses that we are facing right now, and this lack of cell service is having a tangible effect.”

Former White Rock councillor Grant Meyer also reached out to PAN on Wednesday, and raised safety concerns for residents living on the beach that might need to call emergency services.

He said a lot of people no longer own landline telephones.

Fellow former councillor Lynne Sinclair tweeted that she’s also been affected.

“I’m one of them since night of storm, talked to businesses last night who are losing customers as result – no messaging from City so called Fire Chief today – EComm a big deal! Temporary cell tower?” Sinclair tweeted.

City of White Rock communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi told PAN Wednesday that city staff have discussed the issue with both Telus and Rogers.

“It is our understanding that Telus and Rogers are in the midst of inspecting their existing equipment to have a better understanding of what is damaged along the Pier and if the power and communication lines can be re-established,” Farrokhi wrote.

Telus communications spokesperson Liz Sauvé confirmed to PAN Wednesday that the power and fibre lines that supported the Telus equipment at the end of the pier were “ripped out” when the pier was split in two Dec. 20.

“We are working closely with the City of White Rock on a remediation plan for the site as they rebuild the pier, including exploring options to reconnect the site to power as soon as possible, and before the pier is fully replaced later this year,” Sauvé wrote.

Sauvé wrote that Telus has adjusted its other wireless equipment in the area to help fill coverage gaps.

“While many impacted customers should have seen their wireless service improve in the last couple of weeks, our engineering team continues to explore other options to ensure we can continue to improve coverage in the immediate area,” Sauvé wrote.

Bell Mobility communications spokesperson Vanessa Damha told PAN via email Wednesday that Bell customers may have experienced some service disruptions for about a week following the storm in the White Rock area, and that “services are now fully restored.”

However, multiple Bell customers, including Sinclair, have told PAN that they are still without service.

Rogers spokesperson Lisa Rossington told PAN that their transmitter was also affected, and they’re working with City of White Rock to get it back on air as soon as possible.

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White Rock’s iconic pier was destroyed after a Dec. 20 windstorm. (Douglas Shi file photo)

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