Telus Communications is building a new cellphone tower in the centre of Sooke.
District of Sooke council approved a plan that will see a 15-metre tower built at the Telus building at 6683 Sooke Rd. The tower will be similar in height and diameter to a hydro utility pole. The infrastructure will be contained within the tower.
The new tower will improve network service in town centre, East Sooke and towards Sooke Hills. Telus already has a larger tower in East Sooke.
On average, network sites are handling twice as much traffic year over year, and it means you need more tower sites to offload cell data requirements, said Chad Marlatt, a Telus representative.
The tower will minimize drop calls, slow uploads and downloads or not being to make a call all together.
“If we really want to improve service we need to have antennas closer to where people are using their phones,” Marlatt said.
Consultation for the proposed cell site began in August 2014 when 52 residents within 100 metres of the property were contacted by Telus. Only four people made comments with concerns ranging from health and safety to visibility of the pole.
Any wireless installer or operator must follow Health Canada regulations.
“It’s very low power technology that we’re using here, and it’s extremely lower than what’s allowed by Health Canada (less than one per cent),” Marlatt said.
Several years ago a larger tower was proposed in the town centre by Wind Mobile. District council rejected the proposal after community opposition.
This time Telus only needed “concurrence” from Sooke council at the request of Industry Canada, a federal government regulator.
Coun. Kevin Pearson said his concern was that the tower would not be intrusive and interfere with plans to beautify the town centre. He encouraged Telus to work with the municipality on beautification plans, including work on the outside of Telus building.
Work on the tower is expected to start in 2016.