From left to right: Scott Hadley, Huawei; Geoff Gay, CEO Athabasca Basin; Jeff McKeand, SaskTel

ABD’s Largest-Ever Donation Helps Bring Cellular Service to the North

March 3, 2014 in Giving Back
Explorer: Spring 2014

In November 2013, Athabasca Basin Development committed $249,000 to help bring cellular service for the first time to the Athabasca communities of Fond Du Lac, Black Lake, Stony Rapids, and Wollaston Lake.

Athabasca Basin Development joined SaskTel and Huawei Canada for the northern cell tower initiative. This partnership is based on SaskTel’s Community Participation Model, which allows communities to raise funds to cover the shortfall when it is not economically feasible for SaskTel to finance a new cellular site alone.

These towers will give the northern Saskatchewan communities connectivity to the rest of the world and province, better access to emergency services and further develop the economic opportunities for the residents of these communities. SaskTel anticipates that the cellular service will be in place by 2015.

“As both Chief and a member of the Black Lake First Nation, I see this initiative as a significant investment into our community,” says Chief Ricky Robillard, a member on the Athabasca Basin Development Board of Directors. “This initiative will improve not just the business climate in our area, but also the safety of our residents and help connect our community members to the rest of Saskatchewan. While we still have much work to do to improve conditions in our region, initiatives like these serve as important steps towards building a better future for our children.”

SaskTel’s economic analysis for this $5.8 million project covering these four communities, which took into account the overall cost of the tower sites, operating expenses over the first five years, and the anticipated revenues, resulted in a shortfall of $634,000.