Rossland Radio Co-op tower move denied by council

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
October 12th, 2011

 Council unanimously denied the Rossland Radio Co-op’s (RRC) request to move the radio tower from 2096 2nd Ave. to 1807 Columbia Ave. at yesterday’s regular meeting.

“It’s not the best idea for the city of Rossland or the [radio] co-op,” Mayor Granstrom said. “This [decision] isn’t to say we don’t support them, it’s just to say it’s not the right location.”

RRC director Marty Cancilla had presented the request to council on July 11 and Sept. 19, also asking for in-kind donations from the city to help move and install the tower. The RRC said they could use the tower to increase the range of their radio signal if the tower was located beside their broadcast station at 1807 Columbia that the city has provided with a waived rent.

Council’s decision to deny the request was guided by three factors. One, the building at 1807 Columbia has an uncertain future, having been deemed “no longer fiscally responsible to maintain” by city staff. Two, some people, including neighbours, have questioned the aesthetics of the tower in that location. And three, council felt a more permanent “home” might be found for the RRC elsewhere.

Coun. Hanne Smith said, “It’s a killer because I really support the co-op. I would like them to find a location that will work for them, and I hope the city can support their search.”

“Moving [the tower] down the hill seemed counter-intuitive to me,” Coun. Andy Stradling said. He suggested that the city has land in higher locations “that would seem a better place for a broadcast station.” On Sept. 19, Coun. Laurie Charlton had suggested the top of Red Mountain. While this or the top of Monte Christo might be the “ultimate,” Stradling said, he thought the current tower location would be more effective than further downhill.

To use the tower in its present location, the RRC would need to purchase a repeater. Cancilla had ruled out this expense as beyond the volunteer organization’s limited budget, although the solution could be viable if a grant were secured.

Stradling’s main concern, shared by council, was that making an investment in the tower at 1807 Columbia would “lock us in.”

“I’ve always been an advocate for getting rid of this building,” Coun. Jill Spearn said, adding that she thought the 17 metre tower would be an “eyesore” at the “entrance to our city,” and “incongruent for that neighbourhood.” She referred to two letters from neighbours who, although supportive of the RRC, thought the tower would negatively impact their views.

Coun. Kathy Wallace said, “I want [the RRC] to find a home that’s going to give them some long term stability.”

Especially as the school facilities in town are re-envisioned, Spearn was quick to offer her hope that the RRC “integrate” with RSS as part of a greater Neighbourhoods of Learning initiative. “How great would that be?” Spearn asked.

Granstrom acknowledged merit in that idea, suggesting a better-located radio co-op with a broader signal “could be an economic driver in the community.”

He concluded, “Some positive stuff could come out of this for the radio co-op.”

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