Forbidden Plateau residents are concerned about BC Hydro’s plan to place a repeater tower — a combination radio receiver/transmitter — near the base of the old ski hill.
The 45-metre tower is part of an $8 million project to improve public safety and provide reliable watershed flow information.
According to resident Mike Morris, Hydro told the Transportation Ministry that a consultation was completed. A permit was then issued. But he says the only consultation was a mail-out, which didn’t ask for feedback.
BC Hydro had contacted the Forbidden Plateau Road Association in the fall.
“Certainly there hasn’t been a consultation with the community,” Morris said. “Basically Hydro said there are no concerns, but all residents are opposed.”
It’s not the project residents are opposed to, but the location.
“The site is just the wrong spot,” he said. “It’s right in the middle of our community. It’s going to tower about 100 feet above the treeline. There’s residential properties on three sides. There’s thousands of hectares around here that certainly we feel, as a community, is a better spot to place that.”
Impact to property values — and the impact of radio waves — are among the concerns.
BC Hydro says the decades-old wired system is subject to interruption, hence the need to go wireless. A telecommunications overview determined the viable location for a monopole — which communicates to the river water gauges and sirens — is on Forbidden Plateau.
“We spent time examining three viable locations on the mountain to place the pole,” Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson said. “In the end, the planned location made the most sense as it provides good radio coverage, has a small environmental footprint with no access road or extensive site clearing needed as it’s placed on disturbed land, is easily accessible within an existing road allowance, and is away from homes.”
Radio output from the pole is low-energy with a pair of four-watt radios on top of the pole.
“It’s like having two regular walkie-talkies that people use,” Watson said. “These low-powered radios are common in everyday lives and have been used safely for decades.”
A public meeting about the project is slated for 7 p.m. Monday, April 11 at the CVRD boardroom at 550 Comox Rd. Representatives from BC Hydro will attend, as will Area A director Edwin Grieve.
For more information about the project, visitforbiddenplateauroadassociation.com and click on Announcements.