A newly proposed cell tower about nine kilometres west of Castlegar above Highway 3 is part of a major investment in better wireless coverage for the Kootenay region according to a company spokesperson.
“We’re looking at an investment of about $700,000 for this one site,” said Shaun Hall. “This is part of a multi-year project that we’re undertaking as part of our telecommunications contract with the Province of B.C. Last year, we signed a 10-year telecom contract and as part of that we agreed to invest $350 million of Telus’ money in extending our infrastructure out in a few ways.”
Hall said the process was in the early stages of planning and Telus is communicating with local government now — in this case the regional district — before they even begin formal consultations.
“Just so there are no surprises,” said Hall.
He said the company is at least a year or two away from the tower being erected.
“We will go through all the regular environmental reviews, standard public consultation process and the like,” he said. “We’ve been hearing from the community that they’re interested in coverage for this stretch of highway.”
Hall said he receives more calls from people who want better coverage than those who are opposed to the idea.
“If a motor vehicle accident happens or you see something that has happened and need to dial 911, these towers can save lives,” he said.
Having grown up in Nelson, Hall said he understands finding viable tower locations is tricky across the Kootenays because of the terrain — the signals don’t go around corners.
“You need a good view over the highway corridor and into any residences,” he said. “Our goal is to provide continuous coverage along Hwy 3.”
Tower heights vary from site to site based on geography and the type of tower being installed. Hall said preliminary technical specifications of the newly proposed tower were discussed with the Regional DIstrict and they are proposing a tower with a height of 60 metres (just over 196 feet), but such details are subject to change.
Hall said more than 1,700 km of unconnected corridors are hoped to be connected as part of that contract.
The proposed site is at a remote location, accessed primarily by Eleven Mile North Forest Service Road (see adjacent map).