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FORT NELSON, B.C – The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has reached a compromise with BC Hydro after a previous meeting in June was unsuccessful.

In an interview on Moose Talks, Northern Rockies Mayor Gary Foster said the compromise consists of having one lineman working in Fort Nelson during the summer and two working in the area during the winter months, a similar agreement to one the municipality had previously with BC Hydro.

“It’s not ideal. We’d like to have two in the summer as well. But, this is a reasonable compromise that accomplishes the goal of driving down the amount of time we don’t have power in Fort Nelson when there’s an outage. I believe that this will probably reduce the outages by 80 per cent in Fort Nelson,” Foster said.

Foster also commented on the chronic lack of healthcare workers in the region.

We’re short of nurses, we’re short of doctors, we’re short of lab techs, we’re short of a lot of things in health care. I think Northern Health is doing what they can to minimize these, but the impacts on the community like Fort Nelson are extremely severe,” Foster explained.

According to Foster, there are approximately 100 lab positions vacant in B.C. and there currently aren’t a sufficient number of applicants to fill them.

Foster says Northern Health has provided incentives for those who move to the Northern Rockies to fill these positions, including a signing bonus and moving expenses.

Due to these shortages, doctors in Fort Nelson must send samples, such as blood, to be tested in Fort St. John.

Foster days healthcare advocate, Doug Blackie has been working with the municipality to identify the main issues they face when it comes to the shortage of healthcare workers.

“We want to make the people who come here to engage in health care activities, we want to make them part of the community. If you do that, people have a tendency to stay here,” Foster said.

The NRRM has also been working on addressing the spotty cellular service along the Alaska Highway to the Yukon Border.

The municipality will be installing 9-11 telephone boxes along the highway for travellers who need to access emergency services.

Foster says the boxes will be approximately 100 km apart, but locations for the boxes are still being worked out.

“It depends on how your cell service is in certain places. You wouldn’t put a call box where you’ve got cell service. So certainly mainly for those, those distances where you don’t have access. And of course, we’re looking at ways to put signage up so that people know where the next call box is,” Foster said.

Five 9-1-1 call boxes will be installed along the Alaska Highway next spring if the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s application for grant funding is successful.

 

 

 

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