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The challenge

Peerless Trout First Nation (PTFN) had an extreme need for reliable mobile cellular phone services within the PTFN community areas and the Nation’s rural roadways. The Nation’s goal was to support access to local calling and to emergency providers for the safety and security of its residents. To create enhanced mobile cellular services, the PTFN sought a partner to support the planning, coordination and installation of cellular towers within the central north Alberta Indigenous communities of Peerless Lake and Trout Lake.

The solution

In 2021, Arcadis began working with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Peerless Trout First Nation (PTFN) to improve mobile coverage to residents within their homes, communities, and along roadways within the Nation.

The design supported the identification of the PTFN community areas and roadways without cellular service access with an objective to improve local mobile communications and support access to emergency providers for the safety and security of residents. Arcadis provided consultation and site reviews on the equipment and coverage areas and identified the optimal locations for the placement of future cellular towers. The program included the engagement of national service providers to participate in a joint PTFN/ISC funding program to build two community-based towers and to provide operational mobile cellular services.

Once the program was initiated and commenced with Rogers and PTFN, we engaged with Indigenous Services Canada, the Alberta Government, and the Canadian Government to ensure the optimal tower locations were not in conflict with ongoing Indigenous treaty and land agreements. Throughout the program, Arcadis managed, coordinated, and supported the communication of requirements and facilitated the conversations and processes with all entities to confirm the success of the project plan and minimize delays. All engagement was sensitive to the local needs and concerns for improved services, and through respect, understanding and trust, Arcadis was able to provide support and direction to the partners and fulfil the requirements of the Nation’s and government’s processes.

As a result of improved cellular services, PTFN has encouraged the establishment of a local phone pop-up shop to purchase and service cellular phones. The new tower infrastructure and services has led to telecommunication training and employment openings with Rogers for the service and maintenance needs of cellular phone users, communication towers and specialized site equipment.

The impact

This remote First Nation cellular implementation program is based upon Arcadis’ management principles to provide informative, respectful and coordinated meetings with all active participants and to listen and support the strong local PTFN individuals who provide a voice for the people who are most impacted by and will benefit from the success of this project.

As the project management lead for the program, Arcadis encouraged Rogers and their sub-contractors to engage locally, attend community information sessions and attain local knowledge about the sensitive remote areas they were working within. Arcadis maintained communication with the various key local program leads to ensure activities were understood and any concerns were addressed.

Arcadis supported the identification of local PTFN contractors to utilize First Nation resources and/or preferred service providers wherever possible to support the Rogers program. The PTFN community resources that were utilized included field staff, heavy equipment operators, communication and coordination of power providers, and support from the PTFN project coordinators to minimize delays in meeting the provincial and Canadian government permitting needs.

The Arcadis team appreciated the opportunity provided by the PTFN cellular program and the local knowledge gained in working with our northern neighbours.

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