Cowichan Valley Regional District directors disagree over new cell tower

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is opposing the construction of a cell tower at 1345 Fisher Rd. in Cobble Hill.

Roger Communications has proposed the tower, which has to be approved by Industry Canada.

The board was not unanimous in opposition to the project, however, with some arguing that the tower would improve safety in an area filled with dead zones, as well as enable businesses to function better.

Lori Iannidinardo led the charge in favour of the tower’s construction.

"There are dead zones," she said. "I really feel this is a benefit to everyone in the community."

She described a situation faced by a local winery where visitors cannot phone them from the gate to be let onto the property because there is no cell signal.

But first and foremost it’s about safety on the highway and other roads, Iannidinardo argued.

They heard from former North Cowichan councillor Ruth Hartmann who was in a very serious car accident near Dougan Lake, Iannidinardo said. She was stuck hanging upside down in the vehicle for a considerable time, unable to call for help because of lack of cell service in the area, Iannidinardo recounted.

"I’d look at this as a public safety issue," Dir. Rob Douglas said, unhappy that he was unable to vote on the topic, as, since it is a land use issue, it was only voted upon by electoral area directors and he represents the Municipality of North Cowichan.

Dir. Matteus Clement of Cobble Hill gave the opposing argument, saying that the tower’s proximity to a school was a concern in the community, but so was the quality of the presentation by Rogers Communications.

Rogers came to the area twice to present, and did not address any of the community concerns in their second presentation, Clement said.

"I don’t feel that they were genuine in presenting all of the actual options," he said, only the cheapest. They didn’t, for example, talk about the possibility of microcell towers, Clement said.

Directors Klaus Kuhn, Ian Morrison, Mel Dorey and Iannidinardo voted against the electoral area directors’ position opposing the tower, but were outvoted.