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Qualicum Beach moves forward on alternative recommendation for proposed cell tower

‘The town has received a large volume of unsolicited correspondence on the proposed locations’
Qualicum Beach council discussed a proposed cell tower at their most recent meeting. (Black Press file)

A proposed Telus cell tower continues to make waves in Qualicum Beach.

Qualicum Beach council voted to move the following alternative recommendation at their Aug. 19 meeting: “THAT Council directs staff, after execution of a satisfactory lease agreement, to provide Land Use Concurrence for the proposed TELUS Communications Inc. site at 845 Village Way, as described in the Aug. 19, 2020 planning memo to council.”

The monopole tower was proposed to be built on one of two town-owned locations – 2045 Island Hwy W and 845 Village Way.

Director of planning Luke Sales read the initial recommendation, which would have allowed for the public to submit feedback directly to the town until Sept. 30.

“The town has received a large volume of unsolicited correspondence on the proposed locations, as well as requests from community members to make a delegation to council regarding this issue. Staff have not allowed delegations to date, and are seeking council direction on the extent of public consultation to be undertaken by the town. Although there is no legal requirement for addition public consultation, staff recommend an additional period of time for members of the public to write directly to the town,” read part of a town report.

Some feedback is posted on the town’s website.

READ MORE: Centre withdraws from cell tower project in Qualicum Beach

Coun. Robert Filmer then moved to consider the alternative recommendation.

“I’m not seeing the advantage of carrying on for another month and a bit,” he said. “I love dialogue, I love public feedback, but at this point, we’re not getting any new information.”

Coun. Teunis Westbroek disagreed and said because they’ve been telling the public they’d have the opportunity to weigh in once it was before council, they should wait the extra month. Coun. Adam Walker echoed his concerns.

“It’s a tough one, I would be ready to vote on one of these, but I think because of what we’ve said to the people, and that started way back where we said there will be an opportunity for the public to address council directly,” said Westbroek. “I think we have to endure another month of letters and emails and so on, but I think that’s fair.”

“My concern is that up until not that long ago, a couple of days ago, we’ve been telling the public… this isn’t before council yet, this isn’t before the town. You know, we’re not in a position where we can comment or do anything with your feedback and the staff recommendation is to allow the community to, in written form, submit all of their feedback to town staff to be consolidated,” said Walker.

Coun. Scott Harrison said he thinks council should have a discussion with Telus about the aesthetics of the structure, but that he does want the project to move forward. He said he’s seen a lot of feedback over the last few months and that he thinks it’s reasonable to move forward with the alternative recommendation.

“For the health side of things… I think that’s the main concern people have, that’s not corroborated by literature reviews that have been done by international organizations tasked with making sure people are safe,” he said.

Sales followed and said town staff don’t have a strong preference on location.

“That parcel is 1.22 acres, so when we talk about future use for town assets, which land you’re talking about, even if you take off the chunk with the Qualicum Beach sign and the grass there, there’s still an acre of land that the town in the future could do something with,” he said. “And that acre once the cell tower is put in the middle of it is going to be very restricted to anything other than parking or forest.”

Ultimately, the motion passed with Westbroek and Walker opposed.

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