Payphones: A dying fad in Kelowna

Payphones: A dying fad in Kelowna

When did you last use a payphone?

Superman would be hard-pressed to find a phone booth to change into his outfit these days.

There is little demand for payphones in this time of Wi-Fi, smartphones and texting, but there are a few still available for use in Kelowna that have yet to be taken away.

According to a Canadian Press article from 2015, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) proposed to tighten up the rules companies must follow when they choose to disconnect the last municipal payphone.

Currently, there are two street-side payphones in the downtown Kelowna area: one outside the Kelowna Law Courts on Water Street and another just a block away outside Kelowna Memorial Arena on Doyle Avenue—neither are in a booth and both are still connected.

Staff at the Tourism Kelowna waterfront kiosk often get international tourists asking to use the Wi-Fi or the landline to make calls, and only rarely direct people to the downtown payphones.

READ MORE: Last call for the ever-vanishing payphone in Parksville Qualicum Beach

READ MORE: Freedom Mobile throws hat into Kelowna’s cellphone provider ring

A CRTC survey found that only 32 per cent of Canadians used a payphone even once in 2014—and that was five years ago.

A payphone directory website that lists known payphone numbers for major cities in B.C. sites zero numbers in Kelowna, while significantly smaller municipalities’ Keremeos and Penticton both have two numbers each listed.

Meanwhile, in the small Village of Coalmont, the town’s only payphone has been greatly missed since a freak incident destroyed the booth.

“The phone booth was great and it was used often,” said Diane Stern, owner of the Mozey-On-Inn Motel in the heart of Coalmont.

The booth hasn’t been replaced since the incident in 2015. Instead, Telus installed what Stern referred to as a “jail-phone,” which is the only public phone in the town which has little-to-no cell service

“The ‘jail-phone’ is really only good for calling 9-1-1,” Stern said. “That’s if people can even find it.”

People looking for tows, taxis or almost anything else come to Stern’s motel to make calls; it’s not a problem for them, but it could be when the motel closes their doors in 2021.

“When we close, they will need to put something better in because the current phone doesn’t cut it. I really hope that it gets replaced,” said Stern.

READ MORE: Man found guilty in bizarre assault banished from Coalmont for a year

Apart from the two street-side payphones downtown, there are only a few known local spots where payphones could be easily accessed. There are two at the 7-11 in Lake Country and signage for an old phone booth along side Highway 33 in Rutland just outside Olympia Tavern Greek Restaurant.

There have been old-style Telus payphones also spotted at Manteo Waterfront Resort, Jim Lind Arena in West Kelowna, Encore West Kelowna movie theatre, KGH and the Kelowna airport.

Telus’ Liz Sauvé said that the use of payphones has been steadily declining for almost 20 years.

“Telus currently has about 8,000 payphones across Canada, primarily in B.C., Alberta, and Quebec. Many payphones go days at a time between use,” Sauvé said.

“At this point, if we do remove a payphone, it’s generally because the landlord doesn’t want it anymore because it’s not being used, it’s being vandalized or because they’d prefer to put something else in that space.”

READ MORE: District, residents, RCMP and ICBC weigh-in on how to use a Lake Country roundabout

Payphones offer affordable, easily accessible and private options for people who may be from low-income families or homeless, but can also be an easy targets for vandals.

Telus also offers a support program for young adults transitioning from foster care with free phones and plans due to the hardships some face due to the lack of affordable communication options and declining availability of payphones. Currently, more than 10,000 British Columbians use Telus’ Mobility for Good program.

These payphones can be completely useless in some communities or be an essential lifeline in others.

Either way, with phone booths all but extinct and payphones seemingly close behind, new options will soon be needed for low-income users and costume-changing superheroes.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets at Prospera Place in Kelowna (Craft Culture Events/Contributed).
Kelowna’s Prospera Place summer market a success

Craft Culture Events hosts its first of four summer markets and vendors were ‘excited’ to be back

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read