About 70 people have signed a petition to prevent a Telus cell tower from being installed in a residential area near Secret Cove.
The telecommunications facility, including a tower, would be located at 10591 Mercer Rd., about 100 metres south of Highway 101.
“This industrial compound is extremely obtrusive and should not be located in a residential area,” states the petition’s Sept. 17 letter. More than 95 per cent of households in the immediate area oppose the location, it said.
“Obviously the majority of residents in this area do not want this tower here, regardless of Telus’ claims and solicitation.”
Radiation from cell phone towers was also marked as a concern. The letter cited ongoing studies by the World Health Organization to determine health impacts of radio frequency fields. “The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that further and extensive research is needed to determine the long-term effects of exposure to cell phone tower radiation, as it does not yet conclusively exist.”
The signatories asked instead that the tower be placed away from a residential area.
Also raising flags about the location is the Halfmoon Bay Advisory Planning Commission (APC). At a July meeting, the APC raised as issues the tower’s proximity to a gas pipeline, sightline obstructions and its proximity to residences.
The commission offered Trout Lake, Middle Point, the Upper Sans Souci water tower site or Quarry between the two Mercer Road intersections and the highway as options for alternative locations.
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors discussed the petition at an Oct. 8 planning committee meeting, and while they didn’t act on the signatories’ request that the board and Telus find a new site in a non-residential area and that a land concurrence not be granted, chair Lori Pratt and staff said Telus might be rethinking the location.
Planning and community development manager Ian Hall told directors “staff understand that Telus is reconsidering this project,” adding the district hasn’t received formal confirmation or documentation about next steps as of Oct. 8.
Chair and Halfmoon Bay director Pratt said she has been communicating with the company and while she didn’t have anything official to share, she did note, “This area is definitely being completely reconsidered.”
Pratt also said: “I know they are still looking at other locations up and down our main artery, [Highway] 101, as they have indicated in other plans.”
In June, Telus representatives presented a general strategy to the SCRD for improved cellular service on the Sunshine Coast, including installing “small cells” along Highway 101, a proposed tower at the Roberts Creek Fire Hall and a site near Sargeant Bay co-located on an existing tower, with coverage limitations identified along that stretch of highway. That site was expected to be up and running within days of that June 18 meeting. More details were discussed in camera.
When asked, Telus did not confirm the status of the Secret Cove site with Coast Reporter, but in an email statement said, “We look forward to continuing to work with the Regional District to explore opportunities to improve wireless services in this area.”
Telus senior communications manager Liz Sauvé said the company “continues to explore wireless service improvements to the stretch of Highway 101 north of Secret Cove,” as the community and SCRD have requested. “We are prepared to make a significant investment to bring reliable wireless connectivity to this area, which is critical to highway safety, enabling remote working and promoting business in rural communities,” she said.