Trustees have extended the deadline on a Gabriola Radio Society (GRS) application to erect a radio tower on Chernoff Drive.
As previously reported, Industry Canada (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 Local Trust Committee (LTC) asked for input on the tower from a number of governmental agencies, and sponsored a public meeting to receive community input on the proposed tower.
At their June meeting the LTC also asked GRS to provide a legal site survey and an environmental impact and mitigation statement on how the proposed tower would impact a mature Douglas fir forest and wetlands in the vicinity of the proposed tower.
In a report to the LTC at their Thursday meeting at the WI Hall, Planner Chloe Fox said the majority of those who attended the meeting were opposed to the tower. She said reasons included: environmental concerns; aesthetic concerns; concerns over future tower users; health concerns; and concerns over a lack of available information.
Over 90 written submissions were included in the report. Among them were additional suggestions that GRS partner with radio CHLY to use a tower on Cottle Hill in Nanaimo, or that the society use digital streaming for their broadcasts.
Community members also expressed opposition to a July 9 proposal from GRS board member John Hague that the LTC contribute financially towards paying for a site survey.
In Thursday’s report, Fox said the majority of referral agencies had not responded. Nor had GRS provided the site survey or impact survey, she said.
Given those outcomes, Fox recommended that the deadline for those responses be extended to August 24, and that the LTC consider the application at their September meeting.
GRS President Ken Zakreski responded by late submission to Fox’s report, saying that as the boundaries of the “other covenants” on the property are unclear, a legal survey would not prove there are sufficient distances between the tower and those areas. Regarding the requirement to provide environmental impact assessments and mitigation plans, Zakreski said a professional engineer has said there will be no environmental impacts, and as the site is a gravel pit, it is “subject to less environmental considerations”.
Quoting an IC document Trustee Gisele Rudischer read that “despite or because of the uncertainty of the legal status of provincial/municipal land-use restrictions which relate to radio communication facilities, the existence of such continues to be a site-selection factor. Generally, engineering consultants recommend against siting radio facilities in an area where land use restrictions expressly attempt to prohibit them”.
She said Gabriola’s Land Use Bylaw doesn’t allow radio towers without a rezoning process. She said IC should be told “that our bylaws do prohibit radio towers”. She said IC has the final say in whether to allow the tower, but the bylaw makes clear the intent of the community.
Rudischer also noted that Fire Chief Rick Jackson has clarified that the proposed tower site will not interfere with a fire department right-of-way.
Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said given the community input and the bylaws, there are a number of reasons not to support the proposed radio tower building site. But she supported Fox’s recommendation to extend the process to ensure the LTC cannot be accused of coming to a decision prematurely. She said the applicant is asking for more time, and with some information still outstanding, she wanted to go the extra mile.
Trustees moved to defer their decision, while noting that they would go ahead with their decision in September whether or not they have received the information they have requested.
The LTC also agreed they would not contribute towards the site survey, which, Malcolmson said, is not a function of the LTC.
Worth $1 million
During the post-meeting Town Hall, Hague said that the “market value” of the CRTC license they have been granted “is probably in excess of $1 million” to a commercial radio station. Nevertheless, Hague said it has been granted in the public interest, “and that seems to have fallen on deaf ears here”. He said that decision has now been made, and all that is up for discussion is what IC and the LTC outline as “relevant and reasonable”. He added that those residents whose responses are relevant are only those within a two kilometre radius of the tower.
In response to comments by Hague that the tower would be of “net social benefit” because GRS would like first responders to use it, Gabriolan Mike Phillips said there is already an emergency information source in Canada, and that is the CBC. He said a tower on Chernoff would be “subject to massive breakdown”.
Hague said this was “false information” and continued speaking after LTC Chair David Graham insisted that if the two men wanted to discuss the issue they should do so elsewhere.
Not community choice
Gabriolan Linnet Kartar said the community has been clear about how it feels about erecting towers for some time. She wondered what happened to the feedback that has already been provided to the Trust.
She added that many in the community “don’t like the way our community radio is being presented to us. It’s not a community choice”.
|The Flying Shingle, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada ~ editor@FlyingShingle.com||Web design: Innovative Illusions (Paul Rudyk) ~ webmaster@FlyingShingle.com|