The Story of Telus and New Denver

by Jordan Richardson on March 12, 2010

The village of New Denver is tucked away in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. It is home to about 600 citizens and is situated gracefully on the gorgeous Slocan Lake. The village came into existence in large part due to a major mining boom in the late 1800s and, since then, there’s been a sort of old world quality about the place.

That old world quality is part of the appeal of New Denver for many of its residents, but it’s also part of what’s kept cell phones out of the quiet little hamlet for so long.

Last year, the modern era came crashing right through this scenic Shangri-La and poked its head out in the form of Telus and plans to install an antenna to give cell phone access to residents of New Denver. While a cell phone ban referendum was only just backed by residents there, Telus basically forced its way in anyway and Ottawa backed the company’s play.

So now an environmental committee and some parents have banded together to oppose the Telus plot to put up the antenna. Relying on contentious and curtailed research, the committee and the parents are considering a lawsuit against Telus due to the potential for radioactive harm from the cell phones. They say that cell phone and cell phone tower transmissions can cause brain damage.

Of course, it is the mayor of New Denver that leads the strongest charge against Telus’ adventures in the region. Mayor Gary Wright, stung at least a little by Ottawa’s patronage of Telus, has to be smarting about the fact that the Telus transmission towers in fact fall under federal jurisdiction and, as is the law of modern development, his referendum didn’t amount to a hill of beans to those cats up in Ottawa.

“I still absolutely feel that local municipalities should have control over these things,” Wright said. “I strongly believe that communities should be able to make decisions about their own future, and how they will develop.”

Lest it be thought that New Denver is absolutely opposed to cell phones and modern technology in its midst, the referendum to bar cell phones only narrowly passed by a vote of 117 to 110 – scarcely a representation of all New Denver residents, but “majority” rule in action nevertheless.

There are residents of the town that believe it’s time Wright and the others joined the rest of the world and let people have their cell phones. There’s even a Facebook group supporting cell phones in the hamlet that has about 400 members. And many businesses are apparently telling Telus that the potential for a cell phone ban is hurting their progress.

Alas, whether Wright and New Denver likes it or not, it looks like Telus is coming to town and the old ways of a gentle mining town are coming to an end with the materialization of the very first “Smack Dat” ringtone. One has to wonder who’ll be making that all-important maiden call.

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