Residents and pilots see hazards in Telus plan

Telus Communications Inc. invited the public to comment on a proposed telecommunications facility located at the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch.

The proposed facility consists of a 45.6-metre self-supported tower and ancillary radio equipment that would be located in a treed area at the popular camping, paragliding, and hang gliding landing location.

The intention is to provide dependable wireless data and voice communication services to Golden and the surrounding area.

A meeting on Wednesday, July 31, invited the community to view information boards at the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch, speak with Telus representatives, and complete comment forms.

Public comments were welcomed by Telus before July 29, but included comments submitted at the meeting.

During the 1.5 hour open house, around two-dozen interested citizens filled the room at any time.

Residents of the Nicholson community, the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area A director Karen Cathcart, paragliders, and hang gliders from in and out of town were all in attendance.

“For the most part, folks want to have better cell phone service [and] coverage throughout the Area A communities,” Cathcart said. “In this case, the location of the proposed tower doesn’t work for many reasons. At the community open house, Telus heard this loud and clear.”

Interested citizens voiced their concerns about potential hazards at the paragliding and hang gliding landing site, the proximity to homes and schools, long term effects from the signal, and more.

Residents of Nicholson had some suggestions for better locations.

“It should be on a bench away from houses,” said Nicholson resident Rebecca Labonville, adding that there is plenty of room for a tower higher up that would provide a better line of sight. “They’ve got tons of access up there.”

Many hang gliding and paragliding pilots were visiting the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch for the Willi XC Challenge, a hang gliding and paragliding event held annually in Golden.

Toby Stier, a pilot from Fernie, said that the location of the proposed tower presents a hazard for those landing in the field at the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch, and added that one of the attractions of hang gliding and paragliding in Golden is how safe the facilities are.

“A northwest or southwest corner of the property would be a significantly less risk to paragliders and hang gliders,” said another Fernie-based pilot Robert Pugsley. “Down wind of habitual winds is much more dangerous.”

The proposed tower would stand in trees located on the east side of the property, which is less than 700 metres away from Nicholson Elementary School, and less than 200 metres away from the nearest residence.

“We have a nice area here in Nicholson, and a big tower in the middle of it wouldn’t be visually pleasing,” said Nicholson resident Grant Bell.

Next, Telus will have to review the comments from the public that were mailed in and those that were submitted at the meeting.

“They will now take the comment sheets back and respond to each of them. They may return with another proposal for the residents based on the comments they have received,” Cathcart said after the meeting. “Folks that attended provided Telus with a number of alternative site locations.”

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