We support a New Tower, Next to the Existing One

The PKOLS-Mount Douglas Conservancy supports the replacement of the tower.

We ask Council to request staff to reconsider the proposed tower installation locations near the summit in terms of no need for a new access road being required and reducing the negative visibility of this structure on the natural aesthetics of PKOLS from within and beyond the Park.

The current and future tower will be visible from most of Saanich, and, therefore, care needs to be taken to ensure it aesthetically fits into the landscape of the park as best as possible. Like any good designer/architect / builder, Saanich needs to consider both form, character and function.

From Saanich’s website the following is highlighted about Mount Douglas:

“The Park Charter, approved by Council in 1992, assists in guiding the management of the park:

‘The lands known as Mount Douglas Park are hereby reserved in perpetuity for the protection and preservation of the natural environment for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public.’”

We submit the following background information:

  1. The current tower, to ensure minimal impacts on the park, was limited to Cellular, CREST and Municipal services only. There is no commercial use. The new tower needs to reflect that especially if more users are being contemplated and it is the reason the proposed tower is larger and more visible. 
  2. The agreement to consult with PKOLS-Mount Douglas Conservancy has yet to occur. We did have a brief “information meeting” about a press release that contained (unfortunately) inaccurate information. So, collaboration and consultation has yet to occur. 
  3. Information on each potential location for the tower was not offered during the meeting, making consultation impossible. 
  4. The Conservancy has a long history of supporting staff with Park decisions, including proposing the current underground communications building and present tower location. 

It is likely, given what we observed during the last installation, that the cheapest and best location for the tower is near the existing tower. This location was ruled out by staff, who were under the impression that a road would have to be built. The necessity of such a road must be questioned. In 1990, Saanich originally planned to build the communications building on that summit, no road necessary. A short time later, Saanich constructed two separate communications tower bases on that summit, no road necessary.

Finally, in 2016, the old unused for 26 years tower base was removed using a crane, no road necessary. In other action, our Society hired a heavy lift helicopter to transport Saanich’s largest chipper from the summit parking lot to the middle of the park and later pick it up, no road necessary. There are lots of possibilities!

Our understanding is that the tower will be 40 metres high with a 6 metre high four bay dipole mounted on top of the tower, similar to the existing tower, making a combined height of 46 metres. This would be in contravention of the P9 Communication and Open Space zoning which limits the height to 42 metres. Our Society does not support any changes or exceptions to this P9 zone.

If the new tower were located next to the existing tower which is approximately 10 metres higher than the parking lot, the tower could be 10 metres shorter, the same height as the existing tower, a cost savings and significant aesthetics advantage . The cable routing would be easier and cheaper than the suggested parking lot location which requires a new hole in the building wall and a new trench leading to the tower base, which would also save more money.

What really concerns us.

  1. The better summit site next to the existing tower was ruled out by the incorrect necessity for a new access road from the parking lot to the east summit.
  2. Any proposed parking lot potential sites were based on a 6 metre building location error.
  3. Any proposed parking lot potential sites, because of the building location error, would likely remove much of the already limited parking.
  4. Any parking lot location is 10 metres lower than the current location, hence requires a 10 metre higher tower. This exceeds the P9 zone restriction.
  5. In this pristine natural park, overall aesthetics is an essential consideration, but unfortunately site aesthetics does not appear to be even considered.

The PKOLS-Mount Douglas Conservancy therefore requests the summit location just south of the existing tower be reevaluated through collaboration and consultation, and an open discussion with our Society. Thank you.

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