Area code 250

Area code 250 is an area code which serves the Canadian province of British Columbia outside the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver Island–home to the provincial capital, Victoria–and the province's Interior. The area code also serves the United States community of Hyder, Alaska, which sits along the border near the town of Stewart. The incumbent local exchange carriers are Telus, Northwestel and CityWest in the city of Prince Rupert.


Area code 250 was created on October 19, 1996, as a split of area code 604, which was retained by the Lower Mainland.[1] Prior to 1996, 604 had been the sole area code in British Columbia for almost half a century. While British Columbia would have likely needed another area code in any event due to the province's growth in the second half of the 20th century, the split was hastened by Canada's system of number allocation. Canada does not use number pooling as a relief measure. Instead, each competitive local exchange carrier is allocated blocks of 10,000 numbers (corresponding to a single prefix) in each rate centre where it plans to offer service, even in the smallest hamlets. Once a prefix is assigned to a carrier and rate centre, it cannot be moved elsewhere, even when a rate centre has more than enough numbers to serve its customers. This has resulted in thousands of wasted numbers, a problem exacerbated by the proliferation first of fax machines and pagers and then cell phones.

By the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, 250 was already on the verge of exhaustion, again due to the number allocation problem and the continued proliferation of cell phones—particularly on Vancouver Island and in the larger cities in the Interior. Amid projections that 250 would be exhausted by January 2008, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission began considering relief options in early 2007. Proposals included:[2]

Several of the major landline and wireless providers in the 250 territory strongly favoured an overlay, saying it would be easier to implement than a split. They also wanted to spare themselves and their customers the expense and burden of changing their numbers, which would have required en masse reprogramming of cell phones.[3] The proposal for a split would have forced Vancouver Island's residents to change their numbers for a second time in a decade.[2]

The CRTC announced on June 7, 2007, that 778 would be expanded to become an overlay for the entire province starting that July 4. On that date, exchanges in 778 became available to Vancouver Island and Interior residents, and a permissive dialling period began across British Columbia, during which it was possible to make local calls with either seven or ten digits.[4] Three CO prefixes in the 250 area code were reserved for use by Northwestel, as 13 of its 15 switches at the time could not handle multiple area codes, and its system could not accommodate ten-digit-dialling.[3]

The CRTC decided on an overlay after concluding that there was not enough time to implement a split before 250 was due to exhaust in January 2008.[3] Effective June 23, 2008, ten-digit dialling became mandatory throughout the entire province, and attempts to make a seven-digit call triggered an intercept message with a reminder of the new rule. After September 12, 2008, seven-digit dialling no longer functioned.[5] Overlays have become the preferred method of area code relief in Canada, as they are an easy workaround for the number allocation problem as opposed to a split plan.

On June 1, 2013, area code 236 was implemented as a distributed overlay of area codes 250, 604, and 778. It was expected to be exhausted by May 2020.[6] As a result, area code 672 was implemented on May 4, 2019, as an additional distributed overlay to relieve area codes 250, 604, 778, and 236.[6]

Communities included

See also


  1. "NPA Code Search Information". NANPA. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. "Relief planning for numbering plan area 250 in British Columbia". Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission. January 11, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  3. "Code relief for area code 250 – British Columbia" (PDF). Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission. June 7, 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  4. "New dialing to come in British Columbia". Canadian Radio-television and Communications Commission. June 7, 2007. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009.
  5. "Ten-digit dialing coming to all of BC". CTV News Vancouver. June 22, 2008. Archived from the original on December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  6. "Area code relief for area codes 250, 604, and 778 in British Columbia". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Archived from the original on February 20, 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
British Columbia area codes: 236/672/778, 250, 604
North: 867
West: Pacific Ocean, 907 250 (overlaid by 778, 236, and 672) East: 780, 403, 587/825
South: 604/778/236/672, 360, 509, 208, 406
Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut area codes: 867
Idaho area codes: 208
Washington area codes: 206, 253, 360, 425, 509, 564
Alaska area codes: 907

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