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General News · 8th June 2021
Rob Chapman
We’ve been in the doldrums for a decade on Cortes, wishing for better cell and internet service while the rest of the Canadian population attained 97% LTE availability. Some of the reaction to the Telus plans to now provide us with that service is surprising.
The last mile funding programs were to get modern broadband service (50/10 mbps) to the home. The schedule for that portion of fibre implementation is apparently going to be this summer and fall on Cortes. The Telus towers when eventually constructed will implement a version of 5G which will look a lot like 4G/LTE. There is no basis for expecting this service to impact the funding for the Connected Coast project, as it cannot be expected to be delivering 50/10 mbps in the immediate future.

Canadian Telecommunications Companies are required to do Public Consultation prior to approval for erecting transmission towers. This includes the specific requirement that after the initial public notification there be a 30 day period for people and/or the local Land Use Authority (in this case, the SRD) to send in questions or concerns. Characterizing the 30 day initial response period as simply unacceptable doesn’t make a lot of sense, when that is a federal regulatory requirement.

After that, further communication, consultation, and negotiation are expected to address those concerns, on a good faith basis. Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) have a specific requirement that they need formal acknowledgement from the local Land Use Authority that they have reached agreement with the Telecommunications Company on a project before giving federal approval.

Or, if the local Land Use Authority and the Telecommunications Company cannot come to agreement, then Industry Canada will review the project and arbitrate a resolution. 99.9% of projects are successfully negotiated between the Telecommunications Company and the local Land Use Authority, so federal arbitration is rarely required.

When federal arbitration is required, the Supreme Court of Canada ruling of June 16, 2016, clearly endorsed the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government in final approval of Transmission Towers, including site location.

The SRD resolution for public consultation and support prior to ISED approval just reflects requirements already laid out in federal regulations. The SRD can just ask for a public consultation process with Telus involvement after receipt of concerns in the 30 day response period above. Therefore, there is no need for demanding that.

97% of Canadians appear to have found the above process to be acceptable, and they have shown their desire to have ubiquitous cell service by their behaviour.

I will personally be pleased to see decent cell service come to most of Cortes Island, and I hope that that process is not unduly delayed.

Rob Chapman
Squirrel Cove