Resource roads cover swaths of British Columbia. According to the Provincial Government, there is over 650,000 km of “RR’s” tracking to and from remote locations. These roads often require radio communication and coordination to ensure safe passage for the many users. In 2006, the Government decided to reassess RR’s and their safety. As stated in the Pilot Project Summary Report of March 2013:
In 2006, led by the Ministry of Forests and Range (MOFR), the BC Radio CommunicationsWorking Group (including participants from MOFR, FPInnovations (formerly FERIC), Industry Canada, Forestry TruckSafe and the Council of Forest Industries) was drawn together to create a comprehensive communications strategy for all of the radio-assisted resource roads in BC with the intent of improving user safety. The strategy had three key parts: refine resource road signage, create standardized radio calling procedures, and establish a bank of radio channels that are dedicated for resource road use in BC.
These goals were undertaken by pilot projects in the Peace Forest District and Strait of Georgia Business Area (including the Sunshine Coast).
The first issue was to determine consistent signage identifying channels, and establishing must call locations. Under the pilot project, several sign types were developed:
- Resource Road Orientation;
- Km Marker;
- Road Channel Identification;
- Must Call at road junctions and Km markers;
- Caution signs that would be installed in high hazard areas.
Under the pilot project, these signs were considered to improve safety and create consistency. Signage was adopted as a result.
Standardized Call Procedure:
The second issue was to determine consistent call procedures, ensuring understanding between drivers. The pilot project standardized:
- The order of descriptors for vehicle position and standardized direction descriptor;
- Frequency of calling;
- Rules for convoy calling.
Some variations in the procedure are permitted for ‘local variation’, for example, high call locations which may result in ‘walkover’ or excessive chatter.
The final issue was regarding uniform channels for use on RR’s. After some tweaking, two new types of channels were created for the purpose. Thirty-five ‘Resource Road’ or ‘RR’ channels will be used for “radio assisted traffic control”, and marked at the entry point to each road. Five ‘Loading’ or ‘LD’ channels will be used for “co-ordination of temporary site specific field work”, for example “loading and unloading of resources or equipment”.
Industry Canada has listed the primary changes to RR channels as follows:
- CTCSS Tones will no longer be used.
- Forty unique channels will replace the tones.
- Output power for channels will be standardized to a maximum of 30 watts.
- Naming will be standardized to RR-1 through RR-35, LD-1 through LD-5.
Two-way radios must be programmed to reflect these channel changes. However, as the new channels are in the narrow band (11kHz), only radios “approved under RSS 119 issue 5 or later” will be usable. All older wide band radios will have limited compatibility with the new channels. This roughly translates to two-way land mobiles purchased prior to 2000. As noted in the Pilot Project Report, “newer narrowband radios [can] effectively receive wideband transmissions without distortion. Depending on the wideband radio model, however, narrowband transmissions may sound quieter [or be distorted] on a receiving wideband radio. Wideband radio owners should be made aware of this possibility and be encouraged to purchase narrowband radios.”
However, narrow band radios may have some limitations with respect to signal propagation. For example, “users of the narrowband RR channels may notice garbled or distorted communications near rock bluffs, power lines, steep road dips and during bouts of inclement weather that wasn’t present previously with wideband radio use.” Therefore, those who are new to narrowband devices should consider this factor when reviewing locations of must call signs.
The primary concern for those using RR’s is the progressive implementation of the new channels. Presently the RR channels will be transitioned in the pilot regions of North and South Peace for June 15, with the Sunshine Coast and Strait of Georgia anticipated to complete the transition in August. Rumors are circulating regarding when other areas will be added. However, as some users may require new narrow band radios, it is important to obtain accurate information regarding the switch.
On speaking to Industry Canada, it was reported that the next transition will occur starting in 150 Mile, south to Ashcroft (off highway 97). The maps included below were given as direction, and will be reportedly updated in the coming month.
Rumors place the Kamloops forest district in transition next year. However, this has yet to be confirmed.
The assessment and implementation of the new RR channels has been progressing for several years. These changes are coming into effect over time and in line with stakeholder request. Therefore, it is important to watch for notifications of the transition in your area. It is also advisable to consider purchase of narrowband radios with an eye to these changes.
Walco will continue to monitor the situation through contact with Industry Canada. We will post all pertinent updates to our website blog (walcoradio.com) and twitter account (@walcoradio).
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this process, compliant radios, or radio programming, feel free to drop in to the shop.
 Government of BC, “Important Information on Resource Industry Radio Channels Used in British Columbia,” find at: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hth/engineering/documents/Road_Radio_Project/rrinformation_bc_final-indcan_apr_2013.pdf (“Important Info”).
 Craig Evans & Allan Bradley, “A Radio Communications Protocol for Resource Roads in B.C.:
A Summary of Three Pilot Project Reports and Recommendations for Provincial Implementation”, find at: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hth/engineering/documents/Road_Radio_Project/fpi_radio_comm_protocol_final_report_8may_version.pdf (“Three Pilot”).
 Ibid, at 6.
 Ibid, at 7.
 Three Pilot, note 2 at 13.
 Important Info, note 1.
 Industry Canada, “RSS 119”, find issues at: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf06129.html.
 Three Pilot, note 2 at 16.
 Government of British Columbia, “Resource Road Radio Standardized Channels Revised- Coast Transition in Progress”, find at: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hth/engineering/documents/Road_Radio_Project/Stakeholder_Info_Note_Dec_2013.pdf.