Telus has once again been unsuccessful in its bid to upgrade cell towers in the Naramata area.
The new poles, which would have been retrofitted with wireless technology and replaced two existing poles – albeit about double the height at 15 metres – in an attempt to resolve regular complaints about spotty service.
Telus had proposed two sites for the poles, one just below the intersection of Naramata Road and Arawana Road, and the other near the intersection of North Naramata Road and Smethurst Road.
“The previous ask from the board was to go away and have a look at the area again,” Chad Marlatt, the real estate and government affairs manager from Cypress Land Services, the consultant for Telus, told the RDOS board.
“So we did do that intensively and we looked at basically doing something up above the KVR trail.”
Marlatt said that the area one kilometre past the trail, while further away from homes, was an “inferior solution” because of a poor connection.
But a closer location had residents expressing concern to the RDOS about public safety from the electromagnetic radiation.
“If we were up the hill a kilometre or two from the village area, with the different plateaus and undulations to the land, trees and what not, the signal just will not penetrate into the village well enough to provide adequate service,” he explained.
“Telus is interested in supplying the best service they can to the community, not just OK service,” said Marlatt.
“I’m on Rogers, and we have exceptional service,” said RDOS chair and Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich. “The citizens are saying, ‘Why can’t you share with Rogers on their tower, if Rogers can cover our area well?’”
It’s an argument that Marlatt said Telus’ engineers have struggled with time and time again, but that it won’t fix the existing problem.
Marlatt also gave the board a glimpse into the not-so-near future.
“As more technology is driven online, as more users are required to use more services online and as we move towards to the 5G network, the antennas will have to be closer,” he explained. “Rogers will have to have closer antennas to support this sort of stuff as well.”
Kozakevich said she could not support the proposed location, expressing concern over the lack of accurate information provided to residents at past public hearings, where Telus didn’t give an up to date location of one pole that was moved.
“I need to honour the citizens that live in that area,” Kozakevich said, adding that she has received more letters against the new poles than in favour.
Mark Pendergraft, director of Area A (Osoyoos Rural) recalled the concern over new poles in Osoyoos last year, adding that once they were built, he didn’t hear a “peep” after.
Telus had been seeking a letter of concurrence from the RDOS that it could send on with its application to Innovation, Science and Development Canada.
The RDOS is hoping Telus will go back to the drawing board again to find a more suitable area for the towers.