Saanich council votes to build a replacement cell tower at the summit of PKOLS

Saanich council votes to build a replacement cell tower at the summit of PKOLS
The existing cell tower on PKOLS.

Saanich council unanimously voted on Monday to have the replacement cell tower be built on the summit adjacent to the existing one at the PKOLS (Mt. Doug).

This decision comes after concerns voiced by a conservancy group and residents back in April during an open house where the district staff presented seven proposals on the possible location of the new tower.

Saanich staff recommendation at that time was to build the cell tower in the middle of the parking lot, one that would’ve cost the district about $771,000, but would have the least environmental impact and would require no tree removal.

“I think staff, certainly in their analysis were mindful of the impact and potential for environmental destruction that this new tower construction and the removal of the old tower would have on the mountain,” said Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock.

“They came forward with an option that I think minimizes those things but perhaps didn’t account for the impact on the view and the visitor experience.”

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Coun. Colin Plant told CHEK, “In this situation, all nine of us unanimously voted to not agree with the staff recommendation.”

“We were filtering it through our elected position values versus just simply a ‘dollars and cents’ and what might be the easiest.”

The council says putting the tower near the current location will prove to be technically challenging and will result in some trees coming down but over the long-term will preserve a very special view.

Darrel Wick, president of PKOLS – Mount Douglas Conservancy says there’s a way around cutting down the arbutus and Garry Oak trees.

“There’s a clear shot between the trees and we feel a crane can access this area with the new tower that would just be north of the existing tower and there’d be no tree damage, no environment damage,” Wick said.

“All that’s needed is a new trail to the summit which we support.”

According to the district, the construction of the tower in this location will bring the cost up to approximately $500,000 more and won’t be coming out of the tax payers pockets.

Instead, fees from the space rental on the tower paid for by the telecommunication clients in the region as well as CREST, which oversees emergency telecommunications for the capital region, will be used for the construction of the replacement tower.

The district’s vendor will now complete the design and planning and once those are done, construction will begin with the year.

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