Despite granting her support for the project, Hedley’s local government official still isn’t a fan of the company that’s planning to build a tower to provide wireless phone and data service to the community.
Angelique Wood was one of 18 directors on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen who voted unanimously Thursday to send a letter to Industry Canada to confirm its support for the tower.
The decision was informed by a public opinion poll conducted in August.
Results of the poll showed 87 per cent local support for the project, which would see a 20-metre monopole erected on a property owned by Telus in a Hedley residential area.
Wood requested the poll be completed to get an accurate snapshot of people’s sentiment towards the controversial project, which was the subject of petitions both for and against.
“Throughout this entire process, while I very much appreciated the board’s support getting public input in an area that doesn’t have any regulation or zoning,” Wood told the RDOS board.
“I have had a difficult time dealing with industry, that specifically being Telus, because they were using residents and using the media to intimidate people into believing there were no other options available to them.”
Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall called Wood’s comments “deeply offensive and simply wrong.”
“We’ve tried to keep the conversation civil and polite, despite significant misinformation and mis-statements that Ms. Wood has put out to her constituents,” Hall said.
Telus has long maintained that the location in question is the only viable spot for the tower, since the site is already under company ownership and is serviced, and briefly backed away from the project last spring after Wood asked for more time to survey residents.
“The fact of the matter is, we were asked by the regional district in 2011 to consider installing wireless service in Hedley, and we have gone above and beyond to try to make that a reality,” Hall said.
“We’re ready to make a significant investment of our private capital in doing so, despite the fact the community is just not economic for us to serve.
“Comments like (Wood’s) can only hurt our relationship with the community, which is unfortunate.”
Tom Siddon, the RDOS director for Okanagan Falls-Kaleden, accused Telus of interfering in the August poll by stating publicly that if residents voted down the tower as proposed, the company would walk away.
“I thought it was most inappropriate for Telus to interfere in a public survey by telling people it wouldn’t matter what the outcome was, they are either going to do it their way or they would not have a tower, period,” Siddon said.
The letter to Industry Canada will confirm that Telus has satisfactorily consulted with the RDOS and the public, and that the local government supports the project. Industry Canada has the final say on the project.