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Changing times hanging up Sooke’s last payphone

Communities last payphone being unplugged next month as dying service fades on Vancouver Island
Sooke Coun. Jeff Bateman worries those without the finances to have a cellphone will suffer without being able to use the area’s last payphone. (Sooke News Mirror - file photo)

Sooke’s last payphone is hanging up for good.

Tucked outside Pharmasave in Cedar Grove Shopping Centre, the payphone will make its last call in April.

Not surprisingly, with the proliferation of cellphone users, the number of payphones and their use in Canada has steadily declined in recent years, says Telus.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission found in 2015 that although a payphone service remained in the public interest, it was no longer relied upon to the same extent as previous years. At the same time, the cost of providing the service exceeded revenue.

“The use of payphones has dramatically declined over the past several years given the popularity and availability of mobile phones,” said Lena Chen, a spokesperson for Telus.

Sooke Coun. Jeff Bateman said the loss of the payphone would hurt some residents who don’t have the means to own a phone. He’s hoping some groups in town such as SEAPARC, the Hope Centre and thrift stores will offer free phone service to those in need.

There are about 1,800 payphones in service across B.C., including three in Victoria and one each in Port Renfrew and Jordan River.

“In this new millennium, a payphone may have had its day as a useful thing,” mused Coun. Tony St-Pierre.

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