Proposed cell phone tower for Borden would boost coverage

Cell coverage in the North Saskatchewan River valley at the Borden Bridge will improve once a new tower is erected in Borden

Borden is one of approximately 100 communities across the province where SaskTel is looking at erecting cell phone towers.
The proposed 33-meter tall tower is welcome news to Borden Mayor Jamie Brandrick, who notes it will greatly improve wireless coverage in the village and surrounding area.
“It will mean that people will be able to use their cellular devices inside their homes and inside the community centre without worrying if calls will be dropped,” said Brandrick.
“This is a huge benefit not only for the convenience but also for the safety of our citizens.”
SaskTel External Communications Manager Greg Jacobs said the proposed cell tower at Borden is part of a larger initiative by the provincial crown corporation to improve coverage in targeted areas.
“In December of last year, the government approved a four-phase initiative to improve internet and cell service in rural Saskatchewan, said Jacobs in an interview on Monday, April 2. “Borden falls into that program.
“Right now, we’re wrapping up Phase 1 of the initiative and moving into Phase 2, which involves deployment of approximately 100 cell tower sites.”
Jacobs said the proposed cell tower for Borden has not yet been approved, but it has received municipal approval and the public consultation period has started.
“Before we put a tower anywhere, we follow the guidelines laid down by Industry Canada,” said Jacobs. “After municipal approval is granted, there is a public consultation period that lasts 30 days. We put a notice of that consultation in the Clark’s Crossing Gazette in mid-March. After the public consultation period, if there is no negative feedback, then we consider it approved and can go ahead and start scoping the project.”
Jacobs said SaskTel cannot give an exact date for when the Borden tower, once approved, would be in operation.
“Because it’s part of a larger initiative, it’s difficult to pin down any in-service date,” said Jacobs. “There are a lot of moving pieces. However, we do expect that all the towers will be in service by the end of 2020.”
The lack of cellular coverage in the community and surrounding area, including the North Saskatchewan River valley, has been a major headache for years. Former Borden Mayor David Buckingham, who is now MLA for Saskatoon-Westview, has long advocated improved cell coverage for the area.
Brandrick acknowledged the community has lobbied for a cell phone tower for a long time, and it’s apparently paid off.
“I think that the pressure we applied in Regina did indeed help,” said Brandrick. “I have spoken to officials at SaskTel and from the Ministry office, I have met with Ministers at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention, and I worked closely with our local MLA, Randy Weekes.
“Recently, I had the pleasure of hand delivering a petition signed by Borden and area residents to Randy Weekes in Regina at the Legislature.
“The feedback I heard at each step along the way was positive and they understood our concern.
“Obviously the message was well-received, and we are very happy with the outcome.”
The 33-meter cell phone tower is slated to be erected at 206 Main Street, in the heart of the village.
Brandrick said the business district will finally be able to connect with their clients in a way that most people in the province take for granted.
“They will be able to send text messages and offer a direct point of contact,” said Brandrick. “This will improve customer service and help their businesses grow.”
But probably the biggest benefit is the improved communication during emergency situations.
“There are outdoor areas in and around Borden that you cannot use your cell phone,” said Brandrick. “For our First Responders and our firefighters, this is a massive issue. The Borden Bridge is a low-lying area with very poor signal and it is a common place for collisions to occur.
“For drivers and emergency services this has been a very serious problem.”