Saltair cell tower site draws static

Residents want Rogers to find new location

Saltair residents are calling on Rogers Communications to consider an alternate site for a 45-metre cell tower slated for Olsen Road.


The proposed lattice tower and the equipment compound at the base would be located on private land at 10638 Olsen Road, and be used to provide improved wireless voice and data service coverage to Saltair and area.


About 40 neighbourhood residents gathered July 6 to discuss their concerns and possible solutions.


Jamie Lee, of Jarid’s Corner B&B, where the meeting was held, said the main concerns include potential health hazards, esthetics, fire hazards and the potential for decreasing property values.


“We are not necessarily opposed to the cell tower as we are to the location,” Lee said. “Progress such as this is inevitable in today’s world. We’re not saying not in our backyard and trying to pass it off to another neighbourhood — we’re saying that there must be another location where it can be just as effective yet in a non-residential where people and their homes are not affected.”


“We’ve all chosen to live in a quaint rural area and a giant, commercial mega structure simply should not be part of the landscape.”


Mel Dorey, the Saltair director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District said he has found a few better locations for the tower, including a spot on the mountainside that’s currently home to the community’s power lines.


“There will be ready power there, there will be remote access to it and maybe better coverage,” he said.


According to Dorey, convincing the corporation to put the tower elsewhere is about the only option.


“The CVRD does not have any rules, regulations or bylaws to govern the placement of cellphone towers, so it defers to Industry Canada who has the jurisdiction over cellphone towers, local governments don’t,” he said.


“They want to put it on farmland and that bothers people but we are not allowed to complain about that, we’re not allowed to complain about anything health-wise, because safety code number six of the Canada Health act says that the cellphone tower people will follow the safety code and put them in safely. ”


Marina Guy, communications specialist for  Rogers’ Western Region, said the company will review the sites before making a final decision.


“We are working with the CVRD to find a site that will allow us to provide a reliable network for our customers and fit  into the community,” she said.


Some of the meeting participants say they felt Rogers did not advertise the project or the related meeting, held June 28, to the public as much as they would have liked to have seen.


Karen Wright  said she was one of six property owners within the required notification distance of the tower to receive a package of information.


“The information package that came to me was addressed to ‘the resident of’… it wasn’t addressed to me personally, or my husband,” she said.


“It was a regular envelope with Rogers up in the corner. Normally those get thrown out because they’re advertising, but for some reason I opened it.”


Wright said she is also worried that the proposed tower’s proximity to Princess Diana Park and the surrounding area will affect recreational users.


“The locals call it the loop, and they use it for walking, jogging, and biking,” she said.


The group plans on sending a delegation to the next CVRD meeting in Duncan, on Wednesday, July 13.