A year ago the City of Nanaimo wanted to offset their $1.5-million emergency 9-1-1 yearly operating costs. The plan was to charge wireless customers a $0.75 monthly fee that would help fund the Central Island 911 Call Centre. The City receives over 53,000 9-1-1 calls per year, of which 53% of the calls they receive are from cellphones (28,090), and they wanted to also enforce a new bylaw that saw the carriers – Rogers, Bell and TELUS – pony up $30 per call to those who declined to pay the monthly fee.
Justice W.F. Ehrcke of the Supreme Court of British Columbia struck down the idea of the $30 charge, noting it was an “unauthorized tax.” The CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association), TELUS, Rogers and Bell have declared no bad blood and that they’ve banded together to donate $22,000 back to the City of Nanaimo 9-1-1 emergency operations. This money is from the legal costs that the Court ordered the City to pay.
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said, “The City and our Central Vancouver Island 9-1-1 Service partners appreciate the CWTA’s gesture to return these costs back to our community. Our desire has always been to have a province-wide solution on the Call Answer levy, and we believe that this is achievable through cooperation with the industry and Province.”