1.12 Resource Road Mobile Radio Communications

Mobile radio communications is extensively utilized, to improve upon safe travel, on resource roads in BC. Mobile radios are used to communicate location and direction when travelling on resource roads.

Most resource roads are "radio assist" and use of mobile radios for communicating location and direction is not mandatory. Always drive safely according to road and weather conditions and if using a mobile radio, do not solely rely on mobile radio communications recognizing that not everyone has or is using a mobile radio.

Government in collaboration with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), FPInnovations, industrial and other stakeholders, implemented a standard radio communication protocol for use on Forest Service Roads (FSR) and other natural resource roads across the province. FSRs with industrial activity and many other resource roads have adopted and are using the standard protocols which consist of:

  1. dedicated, standardized bank of resource road radio channels
  2. standard call protocols - call content and order
  3. standardized signage

Standard Bank of Resource Road Radio Channels

The standard bank of resource road radio channels has been distributed across the BC landscape to minimize the likelihood of interference. The standard bank of resource radio channels has been provided by ISED for exclusive and dedicated use for mobile radio communications when travelling on resource roads in BC. ISED is the federal agency with the responsibility for licensing radio spectrum in Canada. By agreement, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is responsible for administering the use of the standard bank of resource road radio channels in BC.

The standard bank consists of 40 channels (35 RR (Resource Road) and 5 LD (Loading) channels). The standard bank of RR channels is administered by FLNRORD at the operational level. District engineering staff will monitor and adjudicate RR channel assignments and changes, for use in the field, and update channel assignment maps as required.

The standard bank of resource road mobile radio channels is available, to those with mobile radio licenses, for programming at local commercial mobile radio shops.

All industrially active FSRs shall implement RR channels from the standard bank of resource road radio channels. Although, many industrial users have adopted the use of the RR channels on their roads, it is important to note that not all resource roads are required to adopt the protocols and standard bank of resource road radio channels.

Standard Call Protocols

The standard default radio call protocol, for drivers using radios to communicate location and direction, is as follows:

  • when starting, stopping, entering or leaving a resource road
  • at “must call” signs
  • every 2 kilometres
  • “up” with increase or “down” with decrease in km signs
  • in order of: road name, km, up/down, number of vehicles (if convoy calling), vehicle type (optional)
  • no call if part of a convoy called by a lead vehicle within 1 km

The default call protocol is used unless otherwise provided for by a sign posted on the road in which case call according to the posted protocol.

Local road user/safety groups may establish alternative call protocols which vary from the standard.  The local call protocols would need to be provided on signage posted on the roads of applicability.

Channel Assignment Maps

The standard bank of resource road radio channels have been carefully distributed across the B.C. landscape. For each resource district, channel assignment maps have been developed assigning channels to polygons and in some cases specific high use roads to minimize potential interference between operating and surrounding areas. The full landscape is mapped with channel assignment polygons with the intent of avoiding interference between polygons and surrounding areas.

Resource district engineering staff is responsible for operational administration of the channel assignments on the landscape within their area and for maintaining the channel assignment maps.  Modifications to channel assignment maps require ISED approval.

The channel assignment maps should not be relied upon for appropriate channel selection for use in the field, as in some cases, the channel assignments may have not been implemented on the ground. The radio channel signage in the field will govern over channel assignment maps at all times. The following notation shall be place on all channel assignment maps:

Note:  These maps are for planning purposes.  Resource Road Channels may or may not be implemented as shown.

Copies of approved modified channel assignment maps are to be forwarded by district engineering staff for posting on the government public website:  Resource Road Radio Channel Planning Maps.

Procedures for modifying channel assignment maps

The standard set of RR mobile radio channels (35 road channels, 5 loading channels), has been assigned by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), for the purpose of communicating location and direction when travelling on resource roads in British Columbia. Channels are assigned for use in specific areas and on specific roads to avoid conflicts between channels.  The assignment of the standard channels must be carefully and judiciously managed to avoid conflicts with existing and future channel assignments as there are no additional RR channels anticipated to be provided for resource road mobile radio communications going forward.

The standard bank of RR channels has been assigned to the Ministry of Forests by ISED, to be managed and administered in conjunction with ISED.  Ministry of Forests will be responsible for administering, tracking and application of channels assignments in the field.

It is recommended that proponents for modifying channels assignments or seeking temporary channel assignments discuss and consult with other stakeholders that may be impacted. In particular engagement and consultation with road user groups (where they exist) should be undertaken.  Diligence must be used to avoid mobile radio communication conflicts, ensure safe implementation and use, and promote long term sustainability of the RR channel network.

In order to effectively and efficiently manage the RR channels, the following procedure has been established for modifying RR channel assignments in the field:

1.  Proponents should submit a request for a channel assignment or change requests, with rationale for the request, to Ministry of Forests district office, attention Engineering Officer. The rationale should include:

  • a map showing the geographic area with proposed change
  • anticipated time that change would be required (e.g. short term temporary use versus long term or permanent change)
  • proposed channel for implementation
  • results from consultation with affected stakeholders
  • steps that will be undertaken for implementation and decommissioning in the case of temporary use including:
  • further consultation and communications to be undertaken
  • signage to be implemented and decommissioned (in the case of temporary use

2.  Engineering Officer will evaluate the request and assess its feasibility.  If feasible, the Engineering Officer will:

  • Determine whether further consultation with other stakeholders, particularly road user groups, is needed.
  • Request further consultation or directly consult with stakeholders as may be appropriate. Consultation should include discussions on implementation roles and responsibilities (e.g., identify who will be responsible for communications and for new or changed signage), potential for the change to create radio interference, and plans for other radio channel changes.

3.  Ministry of Forests Engineering Officer completes consultation and evaluation of the request including proposed or changed channel(s) to be implemented.

4.  If Ministry of Forests Engineering Officer agrees with moving forward with the request, they will forward to ISED for their review.

5.  ISED would then review for potential conflicts & approve and/or make recommendations as may be appropriate.

6.  If approved by ISED, the MFLNRO Engineering Officer would ensure coordination of implementation is addressed with proponent(s) including:

  • communications of change
  • signage changes
  • modification of district mobile radio channel maps and website are updated
  • Where temporary use has been applied, that decommissioning of signage subsequent to use has occurred.

7.  If Ministry of Forests Engineering Officer does not agree with moving forward with the request, they will inform the stakeholder that the request has been rejected and why.

Pre-approval of Temporary Channel Assignments

Channel assignments can be pre-identified for temporary use in a specified geographic area in order to address operational requirements for planned, short duration intensified industrial resource road traffic.  The intent would be to pre-approve specified RR channels for temporary use within a specified geographic area.  Pre-approved temporary RR channels can be managed at the local level without seeking further approvals.

Loading (LD) Channels are not to be used for resource road travel communications

Loading (LD) channels have been specifically identified for use on loading, landing, and pad sites in order to provide for communications between local equipment and transient trucks while on those sites.  The intent of the LD channels is to avoid having the local onsite communications interfere with road channel communications.  LD channels are not intended to be used for communicating location and direction when travelling on a resource road.

Guidance on recommend best practices for mobile 2-way radio communications on B.C.'s radio-assisted resource roads, and to highlight important considerations for radio installation and maintenance can be found at:

Standard Signage

Sign materials and formats were standardized to compliment the new resource road mobile radio communications protocols. Learn more about standard signage for Forest Service Roads: