Thetis tower project: flawed process

Primary issue not so much the outcome as the process

Unless you’re in the loop, chances are you haven’t heard about the plan to construct a massive telecommunications tower at the uppermost point on Thetis Island.

For whatever reason, the architects of this project, Telus Communications and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, have determined that this is nobody else’s business. Who could possibly question the motives of a company that assures us “The Future is Friendly” and a local government committed to enhancing the quality of life in the Cowichan Valley?

But the word is out, and the ungrateful folks of Thetis don’t seem to want a monstrous erection hovering and blinking over their serene and unassuming little island. At local gatherings, they voiced their concerns about the visual, environmental and health implications, along with the impact upon property values.

The planners must have anticipated this response but, as one Telus employee said, “the islanders will be the beneficiaries, with upgraded cell phone and media services. Anyway, the work has already started. It’s a done deal.”

In response to the growing rancour, the Islands Trust — an organization that seems dedicated to protecting the government from community discontent — devoted a segment of its regular meeting to a town hall discussion on the Thetis tower project.

While there was no suggestion that any action would be taken, many islanders took this opportunity to state their case. They were supported by their neighbours from the Penelakut nation who made their objections on the grounds that this location “has cultural heritage sites of value to Penelakut and is of archaeological significance”. As such, the existing agreements and legislation requires that they be consulted on this matter. True to form, Telus and the CVRD decided not to show up.

The fact is, up to this point, nobody has been consulted. The primary issue is not so much the outcome as the process.

While this might seem like just another squabble in an insignificant jurisdiction, the principle has far reaching implications. If we continue to allow our elected representatives to make deals with private corporations for their mutual benefit, without reference to those who might be effected by such decisions, we will continue to be the pawns in their tedious game of Power, Politics and Profits.

Gerry Fewster

Duncan

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