PORT McNEILL — Expanded cell phone coverage for North Vancouver Island received a boost when the Regional District of Mount Waddington Board of Directors voted last week to approve the installation of a communications tower by Rogers Communications, Inc. in Port McNeill.
Prior to the vote, directors listened to a presentation by Chad Marlatt, senior project manager for Standard Land Company, Inc., a consultant to Rogers.
The location proposed for the Port McNeill tower is off Mine Road, behind the town’s public works yard.
Port McNeill council has not yet voted on approval, but the town has been in discussions with Rogers and Standard Land regarding the installation.
“I believe it had to go to regional district first because of the area (Rogers) had to cover,” Port McNeill councillor Shirley Ackland said. “It will likely come to us to vote on, but it hasn’t come up for approval at this point.”
Rogers previously received approval from the District of Port Hardy to install a tower in Port Hardy, the first of what the company hopes will be a series of installations throughout the North Island.
Currently, the region receives coverage only through Telus Communications Company.
Though the site of the proposed is on property owned by the Town of Port McNeill, the vote of the Regional District Board during its regular meeting Aug. 16 acknowledged Standard Land Co. having completed its public consultation process, required under Industry Canada regulation. That process included notifying all residents of property within 300 metres of the tower, or three times its proposed 100-metre height.
“As far as we can determine, the location is ideal for (Rogers), and it’s ideal for us,” Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney said. “Due to the size and location of the tower and other towers Rogers is proposing, it would give a greater coverage area for everybody.”
The towers proposed for Port Hardy and Port McNeill are part of a broader, long-term plan being developed by Rogers for North Vancouver Island. The details of that plan have not been finalized and remain confidential, the company said.
“We are always evaluating new opportunities to expand our network and bring great wireless service to more Canadians,” Rogers communications specialist Marina Guy said in an email to the Gazette. “Vancouver Island is among several markets where we are exploring new opportunities.”
Temporary use permits approved
Directors approved an amendment to the regional district’s zoning bylaws that will allow the issuing of temporary use permits in the Regional District’s rural areas.
The amendment arose from the district’s efforts earlier this year to approve a one-time, temporary-use permit regulating the construction activities of a landowner in Coal Harbour.
Bylaw 821 establishes conditions under which temporary use permits may be issued, and sets a maximum limit of three years on any such permit.
Directors approved four members to a public/technical advisory committee for the upcoming process to update the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan.
Wayne Gauthier of Alert Bay, Keir Gervais of Port Alice, Greg Fox of Port Hardy and Norm Prince, representing Area B and C, make up the committee, which will meet and report to Operations Manager Patrick Donaghy as part of the solid waste plan update.