Trustees have suggested proponents of a 40 metre radio tower proposed for Chernoff Drive provide a covenant promising that only a Co-op radio station will be allowed to make use of the tower.
At their Thursday Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting at the WI Hall, trustees considered a Gabriola Radio Society (GRS) application to erect a radio tower on Chernoff Drive. Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said that some community members are concerned the GRS proposal may not be financially sustainable. She said that as only the federal government controls who will operate the tower in the future, community members are concerned that GRS will have to lease out space on their tower to commercial interests to be financially viable.
People might be more in favour of the tower, Malcolmson said, if they knew this would not happened. She wondered whether David and Keni Lorette, the landowners of the proposed site, would be willing to limit the use of the tower to Gabriola Co-op radio, and sign a covenant that if GRS ceases to operate “then the tower has to come down”.
She said she asked staff at Industry Canada (IC) about this possibility, and “he said that the landowner could do that voluntarily”. She noted that in response to similar community concerns that the property might be put to different uses by future owners, the Gabriola Health Care Foundation voluntarily restricted itself to the land uses it applied for.
As previously reported, IC is the final arbiter of whether the society can build the tower, but it invites local governments to give input on tower applications. In June, the LTC sponsored a public meeting to receive community input on the proposed tower. To date the large majority of community responses have been opposed to the tower.
Also as previously reported, IC says that it will “mediate” between tower proponents and local governments if local governments do not support a proponent’s application.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer said that whoever held the covenant would be responsible for making sure its conditions were met. She wondered how that could be done. Malcolmson agreed that the LTC would need staff advice to know what mechanisms were required to regulate the covenant. The LTC resolved to ask staff to provide a report to that end.
Rudischer didn’t “see any harm” in asking for this commitment, “as long as the understanding is, from my perspective, if that condition is fulfilled it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is all okay”. She noted that some community members are opposed to the tower itself.
Malcolmson said she also remained open-minded about the application. She said the Lorettes could be asked if they would be willing to sign such a covenant, and “if they say no then we know that we’ve exhausted one possible middle ground”.
During the post-meeting Town Hall, GRS board member John Hague said the society would like first responders to be able to use the tower. He said it would be “reasonable” if the LTC asked that first responders be included in the tower use restriction. He said GRS has no interest in partnering with Rogers Communication.
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