CREST/Rogers tower support requested by CRD director

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By GARY HOLMAN

SALT SPRING CRD Director

As CRD director, I’ve written to the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee urging their support for the proposed telecommunications tower in the Channel Ridge area by Rogers and the non-profit CREST emergency telecommunications agency.

This proposal does not deal with the coverage gaps in the Ganges area, which a previous CREST proposal attempted to address, but will provide needed improvements in communications coverage for north Salt Spring that will better serve any of our first responders working in that area of the island.

CREST has been upgrading its system throughout the Capital Regional District. Through the CRD, taxpayers on Salt Spring are participants in and contribute to the regional emergency communications system and its upgrading costs. The co-location of CREST equipment on the Rogers tower is a cost-effective approach to improving telecommunication coverage while minimizing the number of towers. It should be noted that the TELUS tower in the same Channel Ridge area was not available to accommodate either Rogers or CREST. Also, Rogers proposes to construct a tower with or without CREST, so building a tower specifically for emergency communications would be more costly (including for local taxpayers) and would not necessarily preclude the erection of yet another tower. 

 Dr. Richard Stanwick, Vancouver Island’s chief medical health officer, has written the Trust previously, stating that in his view, and that of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the benefits of emergency communications outweigh any perceived health risks. The wave strength at the base of the tower, which would be located adjacent to a protected forest, is below that recommended in the Local Trust Committee guidelines, which themselves are even stricter than federal standards. 

The Salt Spring Fire Protection District (through CRD), BC Ambulance Service, and RCMP are all members of CREST and support these improvements, as do our local search and rescue organizations and the CRD Emergency Program. 

But the Trust also needs to hear from the community at large. Please contact Local Trust Committee planner Geordie Gordon at (ggordon@islandstrust.bc.ca) in support of a cost-effective improvement to emergency communications for all of our first responders on Salt Spring. Comments are accepted until close of business on April 16.

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