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LETTER - Urgent call for action regarding cell tower proposal on Hornby

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

Community members of Hornby Island have many questions regarding the public consultation process underway regarding the installation of a telecommunications tower by Rogers on our island.

The purpose of a consultation process is to ensure that the public has the opportunity to gain clarity into the exact terms of any proposal; the proposal from Rogers is no exception.

There are many concerns regarding the location of the tower (Crown land near highly populated areas and earmarked for low-income housing), its present and future purposes, the need for a tower, health and safety issues, the risk of forest fires, the sensory impact of a 200-foot antenna running live for 24 hours, depreciation of land values and many others. This is a very complex issue and the rushed process — forced to take place over the busy Christmas season —has not given the community time to absorb and understand the complexities in a reasoned and convincing manner.

Our local trustees appear to be in the dark as well, apparently due to a lack of clarity regarding the sharing of information by the Islands Trust office; information that the trust had for many months. We can’t help but wonder if our trustees are being unduly pressured to make a snap decision without allowing both themselves and the Hornby community they have been elected to represent, the time to fully understand the implications of this proposal. As our elected representatives, we count on them to speak and act on our behalf according to the best interests of the community. They should not be hampered in this duty.

The Islands Trust head office needs to be held to account when not complying with its mandate to “preserve and protect” the fragile islands it is responsible for. Is it possible that they, too, are being influenced by the corporate/government partnership model that communities all over the world are fighting against? Mounting evidence about substantial damage wreaked by similar tower installations on all organic systems (bees, birds, humans, entire forests) is rapidly being revealed worldwide. Is this the primary motivation for rushing this process regardless of the consequences?

Expressions of concern are being raised throughout the community, including members of the fire department, the depot staff, the elementary school, the social housing committee, the Spark, and a large number of residents.

Why orchestrate a process that, willingly or not, obscures the facts, potentially leading the public to accept a type of industrial installation that is yet to be proven necessary or safe, and is potentially dangerous? What is the hurry? Shouldn’t the protection of our pristine environment and the health of our community—our elders and small children, all proven vulnerable to a greater or lesser degree—be paramount?

We are in the process of deciding whether or not to seek legal advice. Technical advice we have already received has alarmed us and we will continue to inform ourselves and others. We need to understand what is actually happening. We need to know if our community can legally be forced to follow a process controlled by a large corporation based in Toronto. We need answers as to why our community is being pressured into feeling that we no longer have any say in our own destiny. This is not what we moved here for. This is not why we chose to raise our children here.

Corporate bullying and government overreach that seek to cut the public out of decisions heavily impacting our lives, must not be tolerated. It is not a stretch to say that this proposal and the process by which Rogers and its partners are attempting to implement it has crossed a number of legal boundaries.

We implore our trustees to support the community they were elected to represent and either vote NO to the proposal in the upcoming trust meeting, due to a lack of proper consultation, or put forth a motion to postpone a decision to give the community the time it needs to understand the proposal and its implications properly. A vote that truly and dutifully represents the will and interest of the community needs to be one based on informed consent.

Helen Grond,

Member of StandUpHornby

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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