At a meeting of the qathet Regional District planning committee, regional directors heard strong opposition to the siting of a telecommunications tower in the heart of Lund.
During the Tuesday, November 12, planning committee meeting, directors heard a delegation from Jason Lennox, chair of the concerned citizens of Lund, regarding the Telus telecommunications facility proposal.
Lennox said last year, representatives of Cypress Land Services, a Telus contractor, were approaching people in his neighbourhood, letting people know they were looking at installing a telecommunications facility.
“They came to several of us and at that point we expressed the fact that it really wasn’t a good fit for our neighbourhood and several of us turned them down,” said Lennox. “There weren’t a lot of details provided so it was hard to know what you were accepting or not.
“We quickly realized somebody had signed a contract to allow this in the middle of our small, village neighbourhood.”
He said the concerned citizens group came together quickly to express opposition to the proposal and in one day there were 20 people in Lennox’s living room. He said they were able to paint a picture of how serious this was to them.
“We’re not happy,” said Lennox.
He said that when the land-use authority, in this case qRD, does not have a land-use policy, it defaults to the federal innovation, science and economic development department. Lennox said it is difficult to find out information regarding the process. The default process is minimal, he added.
“You basically put a note in the paper saying this is what you want to do, you consult with people within three times the tower height and then you have public consultation,” said Lennox. “What that is, is the same people within the radius get a letter in the mail, not addressed to anybody, with a comment sheet.
“Our group is clear. I haven’t heard anyone say ‘no tower.’ What we are saying is this is not the right spot.”
Lennox said the way they were approached is pitting neighbour against neighbour. He said the offer was at least $1,000 a month with a 20-year lease to provide space for the tower. He said the installation would result in a 30- by 30-foot compound in his neighbourhood. It will be 150 feet from his front door, he added.
There was no true public consultation, according to Lennox. He said while there has been mention of benefits from improved internet access and phone service, there has been no mention of the potential impacts. He said these include potential property value decreases, noise and lighting issues.
“This is an industrial installation in the middle of a tiny neighbourhood,” said Lennox.
He said one could spend a career looking into the potential health risks from this installation. There is no information on the power of the antennae, said Lennox.
He added that the concerned citizens were asking the planning committee for a letter of non-concurrence for the project. The citizens also requested creation of a telecommunications tower installation policy for qRD in order to avoid future similar conflicts.
“We’re just asking for support for the citizens,” said Lennox.
Electoral Area A director Patrick Brabazon said he understood the letter of non-concurrence would not apply because his understanding is that the proposal is dead and is not going to happen.
“What may happen, and I expect will happen, is they will move to a different location,” said Brabazon. “I understand there is discussion with the water district. I hope that they could find a suitable location because it could be a service to the Lund area.”
Brabazon said the second request was for a policy and said it should be considered by the committee.
Lennox said it was the committee’s opinion that a letter would help.
Brabazon said he understands the next visit from the proponents will be November 27 and he intends to be in attendance.
He then said the planning committee could recommend a letter that the board is pleased that plans for the antenna have been withdrawn and that qRD looks forward to working with them in the selection of a suitable site.
“I see no harm in sending such a letter saying we are pleased they have withdrawn that one, just to put them on notice that we are aware of the community conflict,” said Brabazon.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said the regional district does need a policy regarding siting of telecommunications towers.
The planning committee passed a motion that a letter be written for the regional board stating that qRD is pleased Telus is abandoning this site at Larson Road in Lund.
The committee also passed a motion to recommend the regional board directs staff to explore atelecommunications siting policy.