Kancoona on blackspot fix list
ALPINE mayor Ron Janas believes Kancoona should be top of the list for any mobile blackspot fixes.
His comments come following the State Government’s recent announcement that $11million will be invested to build new mobile phone towers in regional Victoria.
Alpine Council is among several rural councils set to bid for a share of the available funding.
Kancoona has long been an area of concern for residents in the Kiewa Valley with communication paramount to people’s safety and peace of mind.
“I remembered an incident where a man’s car caught fire and he was unable to call out the fire brigade,” Cr Janas said.
“It’s ridiculous; it could happen to anybody and a fire can start and spread so very quickly.
“Kancoona was of course one of the badly affected areas of Black Saturday.
“It (mobile coverage) would give people much better security.”
Cr Janas, who lives in Buffalo River, has seen first-hand the benefits of improved phone coverage, his locality was a recent beneficiary of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.
A new tower built near Buffalo River was recently activated which he said would help put an end to people being unable to connect to emergency services in the case of a crisis at places like Lake Buffalo.
“It (the new towers) has been a boost for our community and we have more tourists going out that way all the time,” Cr Janas said.
“Campers and holiday goers are more likely to visit the region now that they are able to stay connected and safe through mobile reception.
“Being able to use your device anywhere and everywhere is important; people up here on holiday are usually on a working holiday.
“Some of the questions they ask our tourist operators are whether there is Wi- Fi or mobile phone connection and if there isn’t they will go somewhere else.”
Cr Janas said the increased connection also makes the area more liveable and that families were “absolutely” more likely to move to the area.
“Small start-up businesses need that level of electronic technology,” he said.
“They come up here for the lifestyle and to bring their children up in this beautiful environment but if they can’t earn an income they may as well stay where they are.”
Victorian Minister for Trade and Investments Phillip Dalidakis - who is responsible for selecting where the towers will go - told representatives from North East councils during a recent visit to Wodonga that the government’s selection process would be driven by genuine need.
Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) continues to press for the Federal Government - particularly the National Party and its Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Communications - to commit to a fourth round of blackspot funding.
BY TATE SPITERI