By Dale Boyd
Special to OsoyoosToday
The Osoyoos community is getting a new cell tower — although a little shorter than first expected.
The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Thursday approved the replacement of a wireless communications facility on the Town’s east bench.
The single pole cell tower, or monopole, is set to replace the existing facility at 4804 33 St. moving a stones throw (or 225 meters) to 4204 33 St.
As a result of a consultation process involving East Bench residents and others in the Osoyoos community, TELUS reduced the height of the pole from the original 18 meters to 15 meters — roughly the same height as the existing hydro poles along 33rd Street.
“There were a number of people upset about having the pole moved and the increase in height,” Sue McKortoff, Mayor of Osoyoos said.
“To me it’s a positive move that they’ve listened.”
The tower is critical to maintaining wireless service in the area, the RDOS was told. TELUS also has a sharing agreement with Bell, which may lead to Bell users benefiting from the tower as well.
“I think we ought to be careful. We fought to have the tower removed from upper Carmi,” said Tom Siddon, Area “D” director.
He said he would not vote against the tower moving, but questioned the electromagnetic radiation coming off of cell phone towers.
“You’re getting more energy off your home Wi-Fi than you would be from this tower,” said Chad Marlatt, a consultant for Cypress Land Services speaking to the technical aspects of the cell tower. “We’ve done them in front of schools, little installations. We’ve done studies, the analysis that the actual Wi-Fi in the school is stronger than any energy that’s coming from this.”
RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell noted the tower is beneficial for the regional district as well, adding to emergency telecommunication networks.
“It’s better than us putting up our own,” he said.
The new pole is approximately 116 meters east of the Town of Osoyoos boundary. The old pole will be dismantled.
Dale Boyd is a reporter for the Penticton Herald.