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New Public Safety Communications Service announced today in West St. Paul

Posted: August 8, 2018


New Public Safety Communications Service announced

today in West St. Paul

West St. Mayor Bruce Henley addressed the crowd at today's announcement. Behind Henley, left to right, Minister Ron Schuler, Minister Rochelle Squires, VP Bell Canada Gary Semplorius, AMM President and Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen and Manitoba Paramedic Association's Brent Bekiaris.

The RM of West St. Paul today hosted members of the Provincial Government to announce the awarding of a $380 million contract for the replacement of the province’s public safety communications service to Bell Mobility.

"Ensuring the safety of Manitobans is our duty,” said Premier Brian Pallister in a press release.

"During an emergency, it’s essential that we have reliable communications service across the province including in rural and remote areas. This new digital two-way mobile radio system will provide expanded coverage over a more secure network and improve the safety of our fist responders.”

The new equipment will replace the outdated FleetNet system used by public safety organizations such as fire, ambulance and police services, and the very high frequency (VHF) radio system operated by Manitoba Sustainable Development and used by conservation officers and forest firefighting crews.

Bell Mobility will be responsible for end-to-end service delivery and the ownership and operation of towers, radios and antennae, as well as other needed infrastructure.

The new equipment will include radios with GPS, which can track the location of first responders to improve their safety. Advanced radio encryption will ensure police operations are secure and the equipment will be compatible with other systems outside of Manitoba to enable co-ordination during emergencies.  Five new towers will be added to the existing 153 tower network across the province, to expand coverage in northern Manitoba and new mobile tower units will be available to provide additional coverage where needed on an emergency basis.

Rochelle Squires, Minister of Sustainable Development, was on hand for the announcement. 

"Our greatest commitment and our greatest duty is to keep Manitobans safe. As we all know, every second counts in an emergency and we also know that those who respond to emergencies need the right tools to do their jobs properly and safely,” Minister Squires said.

"When we formed government two years ago, we learned that our public safety communications services, known as FleetNet, was old and outdated. We were told that users experienced frequent service failures and that certain parts were no longer manufactured and replacement parts were being sourced on eBay. This made it challenging for our first responders to communicate with others and to coordinate their efforts.

"I am pleased to announce that following a successful tendering process we are awarding the tender for the new public safety communication services to Bell Mobility …This new digital two-way mobile radio system will provide far better coverage over a more secure network.”

West St. Paul Mayor Bruce Henley was pleased to host the announcement, which is of great importance to all Manitobans. Mayor Henley said that in West St. Paul, with three major highways including Highways 8 & 9 as well as the Perimeter Highway running through it, more than 85,000 vehicles travel through the community everyday.

Reliable communication for responders is crucial.

"Public safety communication service is critical infrastructure. Encryption, GPS tracking and inter-agency capability ensures our responders and our communities are safer and better able to manage resources and the emergency response,” Henley said.

"Our community of 5,500 people is growing exponentially. We are protected by the RCMP, our West St. Paul Fire Department, the Interlake Mutual Aid District and the St. Paul EMS Station. We are very fortunate to have professional, trained, respected responders serving our community and I want to thank all of you for keeping our community safe and being available 24/7 for those in need or when you’re required.”

Mayor Henley said West St. Paul firefighters respond to as many as 270 calls per year.

"Our fire department and responders attend to almost every type of imaginable call. Vehicle collisions, medical calls, structure fires, water rescues, aircraft crashes, floods, wild fires, to name just a few. Each of these responses requires a coordinated, managed response and that is achieved through dependable, public safety communications,” Henley said.

"Our responders in our communities rely on our governments to provide the necessary tools that will ensure life safety, property and protection. We all want to stay safe, we all want to return home at the end of the day, without loss of life or property. Today’s investment of over $380 million has proven that Brian Pallister and his government are serious and committed to protecting all of Manitoba and all Manitobans.”

The new system will be implemented over the next three years.