June 2020 Newsletter
June was Pride month, and as you can see, the Board embraced it while being socially distant.
Hello “summer” and goodbye Junuary, welcome Juluary! Let’s keep the silver lining to that cloud, we have staved off going to Stage 2 on our water restrictions until July 10th, and our lettuce is doing very well. Our Church Road well project is still going according to schedule.
Staff is now publishing youtube updates on water on a weekly basis.
Here is an interesting bar graph showing the difference year-over-year when stages were called.
Telus and Emergency Communication tower at Roberts Creek Fire Hall
We currently have a tower at Roberts Creek Fire Hall that is carrying our emergency communication equipment, including the radio communication to E-Comm, our 911 operator. This tower is old, and no longer meets current safety requirements, and therefore needs to be replaced. TELUS is trying to improve its service on the Sunshine Coast, and has identified the area in Roberts Creek as an area that needs better reception. They are proposing to pay for the new tower, which will be about 45m high, so considerably higher. There are some concerns about this proposal, which fall under 3 categories:
1. Visual appeal
The tower is not very visually appealing and being 45m high, as opposed to the skinnier, 36m tower already in place, it certainly will be more obvious to see. TELUS has chosen this location as the tower will be difficult to see from almost every person’s property. It is visible from the highway, of course. Considering that we will need a new tower at the Fire Department to replace the old one, there is not much we can do about the visual impact, although I did see an interesting tower in Portugal that had some fake branches added to make it look like a tree.
2. Environmental impact
Some trees will have to be felled to make way for the tower. Considering that a new tower will need trees felled no matter where, this concern is only solved by not building a tower at all, but since we have a need for a tower to host our emergency equipment, I fear that cutting down trees will be unavoidable.
3. Electromagnetic Radiation
This is probably the most controversial issue. I tried looking into this. I am a little overwhelmed by the amount of opinions (note that I said opinions) you can find on the internet, much of it based on dated research. Health Canada makes it their business to ensure that human health and safety is not affected, and they stay on top of current and relevant research. Here is what they have to say on the matter. I do have a friend that works installing these antennas, and he said that each antenna transmits with about 200W, about the power of 2 classic lightbulbs. The impact of these antennae on human health is usually measured in the degree of warming they cause to a human body. The amount of warming decreases rapidly with distance from the tower. He mentioned that it ultimately is a lot more harmful to have a cel phone on one or two bars right beside your ear, than a tower being even 100m away, as cel phones boost their signal when they don’t have good reception, and the signal is right beside your ear.
It is a difficult thing to adjudicate, as I don’t know what levels Health Canada finds acceptable, and what exactly the impact is, but I do think that there are several reasons why I will voice my support for this project.
1. We need to replace an existing tower. Some concerned citizens say why not use the fibre connections for the emergency communications, then we don’t need a tower, but in case of an earthquake a cable buried in the earth is not the most reliable means of communication. This necessitates a tower in the first place. Visual appeal and the cutting down of trees is therefore a bit of a moot point.
2. While I do believe that increased radiation in our community can’t be a good thing, the offset of human utility, and the fact that good reception in our community is less harmful than someone using a cel phone with bad reception makes me think that this is acceptable. The fact that Health Canada is the governing body on this makes me hopeful that they have our best interests at heart, although this can be challenged by sceptics. Alas, I will likely put my faith in Health Canada, hoping that a multi-billion-dollar business has not eroded our public institutions like it has down South, where scientific fact is no longer a common currency.
Short Term Rentals
We had our 2nd public hearing on Short-Term Rentals and thank you for those of you that either came or submitted written comments. We can now no longer accept any feedback on this subject until after 3rd reading. My article on this subject from a while ago can be found here.
How do you pronounce xwesam?
Wonder no more, you can now pronounce the shishalh name of Roberts Creek with confidence. Just follow this link for a pronunciation guide of all the shishalh names in the area.
Hard times ahead
COVID, an infrastructure deficit that asset management is revealing in increasing clarity, climate change impacts, like a water shortage, solid waste issues and decreasing housing affordability are creating an unprecedented pressure on local governments across Canada to increase taxes. We are not alone. We are going to have some hard decisions ahead. Can we continue to afford running 3 pools and 2 ice rinks in a community of 30,000 people? What services are essential? What services could be reduced? Can we rely on the federal and provincial governments to dig us out of these infrastructure deficits? Can we afford to do a regional growth strategy? Can we afford not to? I will need to be doing extensive consultations with this community as we ponder these issues. Please feel free to drop me a line any time and let me whether you are leaning towards retaining the same service levels, knowing this will mean an increase in taxation, or reducing service levels, and if you want a reduction, where you would like to see it. Keep in mind that the classic conservative line of reducing the size of government to save costs means that services will need to be reduced to make that happen, so saying to reduce staff is not the answer. Becoming more efficient is also not necessarily the answer, that is the job of management, and we have some very competent and passionate people leading this organization. There is some built in inefficiency in government due to the public feedback process, the need for public accountability, and the fact we’re operating on outdated and inefficient legislation handed to us by the Province. This is hard to change. That is the job of our board, and that is why advocacy is one of our primary goals in our strategic plan.
See you next month. In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always email me.
This newsletter will also be published to my blog at https://andreastize.com