Radio station tower proposal turned down by Islands Trust
The Gabriola Local Trust Committee has voted to not support the Gabriola Radio Society’s application to put up a radio tower on Chernoff Road for broadcasting CKGI to the island.
Trustee Sheila Malcolmson cited six reasons for the committee’s opposition.
1. It doesn’t comply with Gabriola’s Official Community Plan or Land Use Bylaw;
2. Significant opposition among neighbouring property owners and other residents;
3. A lack of a proper environmental survey in line with Local Trust Committee requirements;
4. A lack of the requested legal land survey to determine the exact location of the tower, associated buildings and structures and the proposed easement/lease area, in relation to property lines and covenants, as required by the Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee;
5. Lack of support from emergency responders and the arts community, which the radio tower had been presented as in-aid-of;
6. Lack of support for the proposed tower in light of options related to existing towers, co-location and testing support for new community radio broadcasts over the internet (i.e. there is existing co-op radio in Nanaimo, there is existing tower coverage for emergency services, there are options to broadcast Gabriola co-op radio without a tower).
Ken Zakreski, president of the Gabriola Radio Society, presented to the Trust Committee saying that the GRS board had agreed to fund and provide the environmental study and legal land survey, but would need time to put it together.
He showed a number of letters of support the GRS has collected in the past 10 years in favour of creating the station.
Ken also mentioned that he would be approaching Regional Director Howard Houle “in a more formal setting” to discuss the option of funding the radio station through local taxes.
He said he believes the GRS has met the requirements asked of it by the Trust and Industry Canada.
“We’re asking for a speedy concurrence so we can talk studio locations.”
Sheila asked staff if the statement of provision of information for the environmental and legal land survey would change the staff recommendation to turn down the request.
Planner Chloe Fox said, “We’ve been asking for some time. I don’t think it would change my recommendation.”
Sheila pointed out the Islands Trust Fund response to the society’s request was that it did not see an impact on the adjacent properties which the fund holds covenants on, but this did not constitute a supporting statement of the proposed tower.
She added the RDN is unable to give a recommendation around the proposal without the legal land survey, as that would give the exact location of the tower in relation to any concerns the RDN has on the property.
Trust Committee Chair David Graham said he realizes the tower passes all Industry Canada health requirements, but “we heard fear from the immediate neighbours and fear is real,” in regards to people’s health.
Both Sheila and Gisele expressed their regret in having to turn down a local island organization, but the overwhelming response from the community has been in opposition to the tower.
As Gisele pointed out, of the 81 individuals who wrote in about the proposal, 70 of them were in opposition to the tower.
“Although you have a chunk of support from the past ... we gave that support in the past, but that was when we were asking whether people supported a radio station. [This was] whether they supported a tower.”
Sheila said, “I really like the applicant and I love the community enthusiasm around the proposal and this is hard. I want to acknowledge the truly community-building intentions of this and the heart you brought in to this.
“But I would feel personally terrible knowing that once the tower is up, despite your intentions, there is loss of control. I would feel very bad if this was built and supported with the community in mind for it to turn in to something else. Islanders are very protective and very engaged.
“It’s not a happy thing to vote on but I feel very well we’ve turned over every rock on this one and this is the way forward.”
In a letter to Judith Graham of Gabriola included in the agenda package for the tower application, Shaun Morgan, Spectrum Management Officer for Industry Canada, wrote, “As I have mentioned to you before, the Islands Trust represents the residents of Gabriola Island. You should make your views known to them. If they approve of the proposed antenna structure, then the application to establish this radio station will proceed. If they do not approve, then the matter will be considered by Industry Canada, who has the final say over these matters.
“Generally, we do not go against the will of the Islands Trust.”