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CRD calls for review of controversial East Sooke tower project

Directors want detailed information from proponent
The CRD board wants more information about a proposed communications tower in East Sooke. (Capital Regional District)

The Capital Regional District is seeking a second look at a controversial experimental communications tower in East Sooke despite concerns raised by the area director.

In an attempt to get detailed information from the proponent, 1291956 BC ULC, the CRD board voted this week to send the proposal back to the Juan de Fuca land use committee for further review.

But it wasn’t a unanimous vote.

Though Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Al Wickheim acknowledged the proponent was “vague and unprepared” at the land use committee meeting, he voted against the motion, arguing it went against the wishes of his constituents.

“The overwhelming, united and passionately expressed opposition to the project by the residents of East Sooke tells me of their emotion and psychological investment in the matter,” Wickheim said.

The CRD was asked to provide a statement of concurrence or non-concurrence on the project to Industry Canada. Still, several directors, including Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, wanted more information on the project before agreeing.

Historically, the federal government has sided with communication tower applications.

The proponent has stated that the 49-metre communication tower on Gordon Road is a proven technology that complies with Health Canada’s radio frequency exposure guidelines. Various radio frequencies will be tested to support data communications.

Tait and other directors said they required more information from the proponent before they could vote on any recommendation to the federal government.

“It’s highly technical beyond my level of expertise,” Tait said. “This (motion) allows further time to collect more information.”

The CRD conducted a 30-day public consultation from Sept. 15 to Oct. 14, 2022, following the Juan de Fuca radiocommunications and broadcasting antenna systems application process.

A petition with 90 names voicing concerns about the proposal was received. There were also nine submissions from the public voicing concerns. Many of the concerns centred around health.

“I felt sympathy for the proponents at our (land use committee) who I believe were quite taken aback by the standing room only audience, who were almost exclusively from East Sooke,” Wickheim said.

“Unfortunately, the proponents were also quite unprepared with information and answers for the boisterous crowd.”

The proponents are expected to address the Juan de Fuca land use committee on June 20.

RELATED: East Sooke radio tower plan gets thumbs down from land use committee

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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