Cell tower going up in Sandpiper near Qualicum Beach

Telus official describes the current reception in the area as "spotty" and "definitely not ideal."

Dropped calls may become an inconvenience of the past for thousands of people who live in French Creek, Chartwell and Eaglecrest.

Telus is proposing to erect a cell phone tower at 1421 Sunrise Drive in the Sandpiper subdivision, beside Chartwell and across the Island Highway from Eaglecrest on company-owned land.

According to Telus spokesperson Liz Sauvé, the proposal comes in direct response to a growing demand for enhanced wireless capacity in the area — likely attributed to the proliferation of cell phones.

Sauvé described the current reception in the area as “spotty” and “definitely not ideal.”

Moreover, Sauvé said 60 per cent of 911 calls are made through a wireless phone, which becomes complicated fast with an unstable connection.

Oceanside RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Hunter told the regional district board last week he’s pleased to hear about the cell phone tower.

“It’s difficult when you have a major police event and have to communicate through cell phones and they don’t work,” Hunter said. “It will enhance the safety of the community.”

Sauvé added: “If you look to what people have access to when on the road and perhaps in the event of a motor vehicle accident, 100 per cent of those calls are coming from a cell phone, which makes a good wireless signal critical in the event of an emergency.”

She said businesses in the area have also voiced concern over the bad connection as many rely on portable ATM machines for payment options.

Telus is proposing a 17.5-metre monopole tower structure on a parcel of their own land, which currently houses a Telus facility. The tower is proposed for the center of the lot, approximately nine metres from the Island Highway.

According to Telus, the intention is to optimize wireless coverage for the Sunrise Drive area, Qualicum Beach, Eaglecrest, Chartwell and French Creek neighbourhoods.

RDN chair Joe Stanhope said he sees a need for it in the community.

“Let’s face it, cell phones are a fact of our modern life,” he told

The NEWS from his home in French Creek, where he admits he has limited reception except for at the end of his driveway.

Stanhope pointed to the economic and safety benefits a cell phone tower would provide.

He said he’s heard from many of his French Creek constituents who want better cell coverage, and while he noted there is some opposition, Stanhope said it’s widely outnumbered by support for the proposed tower.

Sauvé said most opposition “deals a lot with aesthetics,” something Telus is attempting to combat by painting the tower green — an idea she said came out of public consultation.

The RDN does not have a tower siting protocol so they are required to follow Industry Canada’s protocol for public consultation. Industry Canada requires Telus to notify residents within three times the tower height of their proposed project, in this case 52.5 meters.

Sauvé said it could be erect as early as spring of 2016, but confirmed Telus needs the green light from Industry Canada, the approving body, before proceeding.

Notices were mailed to the owners of 12 neighbouring properties and digital copies were sent to the French Creek Residents Association, Qualicum Beach Residents Association and Eaglecrest Resident Association.

According to Telus’ public consultation overview, 145 responses were received — 96.5 per cent were in support of the proposed cell tower while 3.5 per cent were opposed.

RDN planner Jeremy Holm said Telus came to the regional district with its proposal in June of 2014.

Holm said the RDN board doesn’t get the final say — but it can provide input to Industry Canada.

At a meeting last week, an RDN committee decided on a recommendation asking the RDN board to write a letter of concurrence to Industry Canada.

The RDN board will vote on the recommendation at the next regular board meeting slated for March 24.

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