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Cell tower proposal for property in Qualicum Bay toppled

RDN passes motion after residents raised opposition to the site
A photo simulation of the Telus wireless communications tower proposed to be built on a property on Cochrane Road in Qualicum Bay. (SitePath illustration)

The Regional District of Nanaimo board turned down a Telus proposal to build a telecommunications tower in Qualicum Bay.

At its regular meeting on June 22, the RDN board passed a motion stating it does not concur with the location, at 210 Cochrane Rd., for the proposed construction of a 63.1-metre wireless communications tower.

Before making this decision, the board heard three delegations that spoke in opposition.

Bruce Whitehead said the location was too close to neighbouring homes and had asked Brian Gregg of SitePath Consulting Ltd., and the owner of the Cochrane Road property if they could move the tower further south.

Gregg said they’re not opposed to shifting the tower but it would delay the plan for another year as they would have to start all over again. He added the decision to proceed with the site is due to the support it received from residents, which is just shy of 60 per cent.

“We’re not trying to be sort of difficult and suggest that we’re not flexible or willing to consider other ideas,” said Gregg. “As always, there’s more than one potential location that could work for siting a tower. There is a trade-off of time and so I would just again, defer through to the board to decide, given the broad support for the current proposal, is it worth potentially delaying service delivery by approximately an additional year? If it is, then we start all over again.”

Melanie Young, a registered nurse, said: “We’re going to ask you to be part of the solution to work directly with us and with the telecommunications industry, to maybe be the first in B.C., and certainly the first on the Island, to look at the effects of electromagnetic frequency.”

READ MORE: Parksville council to support Telus with application to federal funding

Bob Hunt presented maps that point out how close the tower would be to residential areas. He also solicited feedback from residents who were surprised and opposed to the proposed telecommunications structure close to their homes.

Area H director Stuart McLean originally agreed with Telus’s chosen location but changed his mind after receiving feedback from the community. He made the motion to the board the RDN not to allow the construction of the tower on the Cochrane Road industrial site. It passed unanimously.

“I do not concur with this particular location but I would like to work with Mr. Gregg to find a suitable location because there is a need for improved service in this area,” said McLean.

Telus identified Qualicum Bay area as having poor wireless service. With no existing antenna support structure available in the area, Telus wanted to build a tower to improve high-speed, high bandwidth cellular service.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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