Wes Solomonson stands in front of his rural Saanich home near the site of a proposed cell-phone tower, which he says should move to a different location. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Wes Solomonson stands in front of his rural Saanich home near the site of a proposed cell-phone tower, which he says should move to a different location. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich resident sends distress signal over cell-phone tower

Wes Solomonson says proposed cell-tower will undermine value of his rural Saanich home

A Saanich resident believes the district could have done more to aid his fight against a proposed telecommunication tower near his home.

Wes Solomonson said Saanich could have sent a signal against the proposed tower, measuring nearly 30 metres in height, if council had voted to reject the application by Freedom Mobile / Cypress Land Services, to build the structure on a property bordering his rural home near the Patricia Bay Highway.

The cellphone company plans to build the tower at 5420 Alderly Rd. near trees that stand on Solomonson’s property.

Council approved the application in October 2017 on the basis of a staff recommendation over objections from Solomonson and other residents, who had spoken at the meeting. While Couns. Susan Brice and Colin Plant acknowledged their concerns during deliberations, both said that the final decision rests with the federal government and not Saanich.

“This is not our domain,” said Plant. “We can even say no, and they [the federal government] can still approve it,” he said.

Solomonson does not buy this argument. “I think that is a cop-out,” he said. “They did have a say in the matter. If they had said, ‘relocate it,’ there would have been a great impact.”

Perhaps. While Saanich does not have any approval authority, its rejection might have spurred Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to conduct additional consultations in cooperation with the municipality. This said, the applicant could have also asked for direct approval without changing the plans or revise them before re-submitting them for review and council consideration.

The Saanich News has contacted both the company and the federal government for additional information about the status of the application but has not heard back.

Solomonson, not surprisingly, would like to see the proposed tower move to a different location on the designated property, or a different lot elsewhere. This said, he has not yet contacted the federal government.

Solomonson acknowledged the need for cell-phone towers, but questioned the chosen location.

“My main concern probably is the value to the property,” he said. “We have no intention of selling or putting it on the market. But when the time comes, and if we did, and whether it is medical concerns or otherwise, there still is a perception that there is a problem, and that is going to affect the value of the house and the land.”

Solomonson also questioned language in the Saanich staff report that endorsed the application.

“While the tower would be partially visible from the highway in both directions, it would be set well back from the highway and partly screened by mature trees,” said Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, in the report.

This bothers Solomonson. “What is material to me is the report from council, using the trees growing on my property … as a justification for putting it so close,” he said.

According to the same staff report, the bylaw permitting cell-phone towers does not hold them “subject to any siting, height, or other regulations contained in the bylaw” because of their public use. In other, the bylaw grants planning authorities considerable leeway.

The report also said that the applicant consulted all properties located “within a radius three times the tower height” as measured from the tower base or the outside perimeter of the supporting structure, whichever is greater — 90 metres in this case.

Freedom Mobile plans to install three panel antennas and two microwave dishes at the top of the tower and two accessory equipment cabinets at the base. The antenna and microwaves would be “flush” mounted on the pole to make them less visible. The pole would be tapered and painted green to blend with the surrounding trees. The company has also promised to improve and maintain the driveway that leads off Alderly Road to Solomonson’s house and the future site of the tower.

Solomonson shares his home with his wife, his son, his daughter and her two children. He acknowledges his home’s remote location relative to other parts of Saanich means his concerns will likely not resonate with the rest of the community. He is also not sure whether appealing to the federal government will make any difference. But the frustrations of the mild-spoken homeowner are nonetheless coming across loud and clear.

“We recognize that microwave towers are a necessity,” he said. “We have accepted that it is going to happen to us, whether we say anything or otherwise. I’m disappointed in the process.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

The Saanich Fire Department Station #2 C-Battalion members (left to right) firefighter Clayton Tilon, firefighter Bonnie Fiala, firefighter Zay Hamilton, Capt. Dawrin Schellenberg and firefighter Charlie Rivers show off their BC Emergency Health Servicecs Vital Link Award. (Photo courtesy Darwin Schellenberg)
Saanich firefighters receive Vital Link Award from paramedics for life-saving CPR

Award issued to C-Battalion, civilian for help saving cardiac arrest patient in June

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read