Town Hall meeting regarding proposed communication tower

Notes from the Sunday 18 August 2013 Town Hall meeting regarding the
proposed public safety communications tower on Heriot Ridge, Quadra
Island.

For more background on events leading up to this meeting, see
Proposed Communication Tower on Heriot Ridge

These notes are arranged in Q&A format in order to distinguish between comments made by the presenters and the audience, even if the Q is not strictly a question.
The attempt here is to report the ideas and issues discussed and not to try to do a transcript. Wordings are paraphrases, not exact; it has organized by topic.
The identities of audience speakers have been left out.

Dave Emery, North Island Communications, the applicant for the land tenure for the tower site, the “landlord” for the proposed tower.
Brian Fentiman, Mgr. RCMP Communication Sys. Vancouver Island District, one of the “tenants” of the proposed tower.

Dave opened by expressing his regrets and an apology that he did not call this public meeting 8 months ago, before he applied for the land use tenure.
Dave is withdrawing his current application for the site (letting it fail) because of community concerns. Dave plans to reapply for a tower site in a different location. This meeting is to get all issues out in the open before going to the expense of submitting a new application. The existing application cannot be amended because it is a change of site.

Conclusion of Meeting

  • Due to concerns expressed about the health effects of microwave radiation, Dave agreed that all microwave transmission from the tower will be done using very narrow beam antennas and that they will be aimed at Campbell River and away from Quadra, and also that
  • No cell phone antennas will be installed on this site. If a cell phone company expresses interest in the tower, they will be referred to Quadra Island.
  • The proposed internet service for Open Bay and Hyacinthe Bay (WiFi AP) will be dropped.
  • Dave and Brian will work with residents who have concerns about radiation to predict, measure, and ensure that they will have no measurable microwave radiation from this tower.
  • Aesthetic issues are important
  • A legal covenant covering community issues including the above is to be included in the land title from Ministry of Forests and NIComm will sign off on this.

Next Steps

  • hire a local biologist to investigate whether there are rare plants in this site
  • survey the new site
  • draw up legal covenant regarding agreements, working with Quadra and the SRD
  • hold another public meeting on the new site when there is a firm proposal
  • reapply for the site from Lands and Forests.

Meeting Notes

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Proposed Communication Tower on Heriot Ridge

An application has been submitted to Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) for use of a small parcel of land on Heriot Ridge for a communications tower. There are several concerns about this, including concerns about mistakes in the application and the procedure, in addition to concerns about the usage and the site chosen. There is some confusion about this, so it’s best to go through this in order of history.

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Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

The club has purchased a Personal Locator Beacon, or PLB for short, for use on club trips, especially those where there is no cell or VHF coverage
front_view__resqlink__flash

It is an a ResQLink PLB-375 (part number 2880), made by ACR.
http://www.acrartex.com/products/b/marine/catalog/personal-locator-beacons/resqlink-plb

Its one of those things that we hope to never have to use. Its sole purpose is to call for help from Search and Rescue by sending your GPS position to a satellite system when activated. It’s small and light and easy to use. Unclip the antenna so that it is vertical and push the ON button.

WARNING: This PLB is authorized for use only during situations of grave and imminent danger. It is only to be activated when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted. Deliberate misuse may incur a severe penalty.

In other words, try your cell phone and/or VHF radio first if at all possible.

There were several options that the club considered.  All use a satellite system for communication; some have additional, very desirable features and higher costs.

PLB.  “SOS” feature only.  Uses the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system
http://www.cospas-sarsat.org/en/system/systemoverview
These beacons must be registered with the government, but there is no monthly or annual usage charge. It uses a 5 Watt 406 MHz signal to send the distress signal to the satellites.

ACR makes several models and there is also the McMurdo FastFind 220.

SPOT2, SPOT3, and Delorme inReach. In addition to the SOS feature, these units also can send “I’m okay” messages to selected contacts, they can send periodic position reports so that your friends can follow your track on a map on a web page, and they can also send “send help” messages to your selected contacts instead of to search and rescue. These are desirable features, but they come at a cost of at least $100 per year, which is more than the club can afford. Both Spot and inReach use the commercial satellite phone systems. Spot uses the Globalstar satellites and inReach uses the Iridium satellites; both systems use low earth orbit satellites. The satellite system can do two-way communication, but these devices can only send pre-written messages; they cannot receive messages.

SPOT Connect and inReach Smartphone. These devices can do all of the above, plus they can be used together with an app on your smartphone. You can write a short text message on the spot and you can receive messages. This is a very nice feature, and it comes at an additional expense. The inReach SE is similar, except that it is stand-alone; it does not require a smartphone.

Two way communication will obviously dominate in the future. If you ask for help, it’s nice to say what kind of help you need. It’s nice to have confirmation that help is on the way. From the SAR’s point of view, it’s nice to know that it is not a false alarm.

Satellite Phones. These have been expensive to buy and expensive to use.
SPOT makes one now which is more affordable. Relatively speaking.
http://www.findmespot.ca/en/index.php?cid=127