Proposed Qualicum Bay cell tower location rejected by RDN board

Photo simulation of a proposed cell tower location on Cochrane Road in Qualicum Bay. || SitePath Consulting image.
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A proposed Telus cell tower in Qualicum Bay will be delayed by about a year after its location was rejected by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) board.

The tower’s location on Cochrane Road prompted criticism by local residents, who voiced their concerns to Director Stuart McLean, Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay).

“Since the Electoral Area Services Committee, where I first did agree with concurrence, I’ve had quite a bit of feedback from the community,” he said. “I do not concur with this particular location.” 

He said he would like to work with the consultant to find a suitable location for the tower because there is a need for improved service in the area. The proposed facility will provide high-speed, high bandwidth cellular service to Qualicum Bay and surrounding areas, according to the information package completed by SitePath Consulting.

A number of residents living within a 631 m radius of the proposed site also made presentations via Zoom to the board, including Bruce Whitehead, who said he has lived in the area for 30 years.

“I was a little struck by the height of the tower at 63 m, which is the equivalent of a 20 storey building essentially,” he said. Whitehead also pointed out the location is very close to some of the neighbouring homes. He added he would like to see the location shifted to another part of the property.

Telus estimated the closest residence is about 77 m north of the site, according to SitePath Consulting’s information package.

“By the time I was made aware as a property owner adjacent to this tower, it’s apparently to late to do anything about it,” he said. “It feels to me like the public consultation process was just too late in the game.”

The land use consultant, Brian Gregg, said an alternate location could be considered, but would cause a significant delay.

“Any time we move a tower more than just a metre or two here and there to comply with say a setback, if it’s anything substantive — even on the same property, they make us redo our entire notification process,” he said.

Director Leanne Salter, representing Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) criticized the consulting process and said the First Nations were not advised about the tower.

“They only learned after the fact, actually they learned after the meeting we had here at the regional district,” she said. “There were many who are opposed and I don’t know whether there’s many who support it. I don’t know because you didn’t see to that.”

Gregg said information packages were emailed, mailed out and put in the newspaper. He also said a public meeting was held and the First Nations office was called to confirm the best way to distribute the packages. Gregg added it can be difficult for consultants to find the addresses for each property in an impacted area.

“It has been a constant, pervasive issue, not only here, but on other reserve lands where we have towers, and again in other rural communities,” he said. 

McLean’s motion of nonconcurrence with the proposed site was carried unanimously.

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