Serving the Communications needs of the North Okanagan / Shuswap
Currently back country enthusiasts do not have frequencies in the VHF Band to interact with logging traffic. While they can program and licence radios to use the RR and traditional logging channels the recreational mountain user must coordinate their own activities with the only frequencies legally available to them- UHF FRS/GMRS (Family Radio Service/ General Mobile Radio Service) at 0.5 to 1.5watts of power. We realize that access to our back-country areas require planning and preparation and that good communications are crucial.
Vernon Communications and Vella radio have started the coordination of the licensing and administration of a 5-Watt VHF Back Country Radio (BCR) program starting in our home area of Vernon in order to build a self-help safety net from Golden to Kelowna. This will create a way for back country enthusiasts in the same area to contact and help each other out if required.
We now offer this program in the Vernon/Salmon Arm/ Revelstoke area to support municipalities, regional districts, backcountry associations, snowmobile/ATV associations, Nordic skiers, mountain bikers, hikers, hunters, campers and any other users of the back country that do not have legal access to a private VHF radio channel. Included below is a list of current appendices that has been formed that can be sent by us to Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) on behalf of the end user. Alternatively, users can complete the application form themselves online. Using ISED’s light licence policies, users can license their commercial VHF radios for our Back Country Channel Line-up with our permission. This will give users a license to use the channels contained in the appendices for around $41 per year, invoiced directly from ISED.
Vernon Communications/Vella Radio will help with the initial license application for the Back Country Radio Channels however, annual payment for licensing ($41.00) will be the responsibility of the individual.
We would appreciate any and all input from clubs and organizations that may be the users of this system of communication.
Any feedback or questions are welcome. If you feel that this initiative is something you or your organization would like to support, please let us know if you would like to:
1. Help create awareness by coordinating signage in staging areas and other strategic locations in your area- the more users, the more effective the safety net is.
2. Help us get the information to people through a link on your webpage.
3. Be a licence holder in your area (We may be assigned different frequencies for different areas if a single frequency to cover the entire area is not possible) A licence holder just needs to pay the radio licence fee for it’s own radios and give permission to others to use the frequency.
Annual fee for a licence is around $41 per radio. Users with permission will licence their own radios. Initial coverage areas are Vernon, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Malakwa, Revelstoke and Golden.
Instructions for use of Back Country Radio Channels
1. Use our online form or call us to apply to Vernon Communications/Vella Radio to receive written permission to use the frequency.
2. Permit Vernon Communications/Vella Radio to apply to I.S.E.D. for your light radio license or apply online yourself at http://sms-sgs.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/sms-sgs-prod.nsf/eng/h_00012.html . Annual cost is approximately $41.00.
3. Receive your license from I.S.E.D.
4. Ensure your radios are programmed with all your newly licensed channels- Vernon Communications and Vella Radio will help you with this for a nominal fee.
5. Choose a color channel to coordinate your group, be aware that other groups on the same color will be able to interact with your group when they are in range and that the channel is being shared.
6. Always scan the Distress Channel to listen for emergencies.
7. In case of an emergency turn to the Distress Channel and declare your emergency and location.
8. If you hear an emergency call, please respond but do not compound the problem by becoming another victim.
9. Types of responses may be assisting someone lost, stuck or injured, contacting authorities, or relaying a message to contact authorities.
10. Safely enjoy the back country with one more method of communication.
The license for BCR channel line-up includes the following channels as well as our Back Country Radio frequency with privacy tones:
Channel 1 Distress Channel - Monitored by all
Channel 2 Group Co-ordination - Red
Channel 3 Group Co-ordination - Blue
Channel 4 Group Co-ordination - Green
Channel 5 Group Co-ordination - Yellow