A 22-metre telecommunications tower will temporarily be installed near a point where the outdoor gazebo currently sits on the former Oak Bay Lodge property.
The pole, which will handle Rogers cellular and data traffic, will see its existing equipment transferred from atop the lodge, which is due for demolition this year. Brian Gregg, a consultant speaking on behalf of the company at the March 22 council meeting, said the goal is to ensure consistent service for Rogers customers.
Rogers was requesting a letter of concurrence from the district on the plan to send to federal regulators, but the topic prompted significant discussion.
During council questioning, Gregg explained the 22-metre height includes a base and was designed to mimic the current elevation of the building-top antenna. The gazebo location was chosen for the fact it sits on level ground and would require minimal to no blasting, he added, and is far enough away from trees and other structures to allow for an uninterrupted signal.
Rogers was said to be observing federal regulations around the placement of the tower; notifying property owners at a distance three times the tower’s height (66 m) and requesting council’s concurrence. But some councillors were frustrated the municipality could not utilize its typical regulations for a structure within its boundaries.
Councillors Cairine Green and Hazel Braithwaite wondered whether more residences than the seven encompassed by the 66-metre radius – only three responded – should have been canvassed for their views on the tower.
Coun. Eric Zhelka voiced concern that the area might be sacred to Indigenous groups and inquired about consultation with local First Nations. Director of building and planning Bruce Anderson suggested such a consultation would likely be included in the development of the site by the Capital Regional Hospital District.
Coun. Tara Ney, who questioned the health impacts of the tower, wanted to send the matter back to committee of the whole so more residents could speak to it, but a motion to do so failed.
No date was projected for the tower’s installation. The plan is to eventually reinstall the equipment on the roof of a new building on site.