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Residents rally against towers

Proposal prompts demonstrations on both sides of the border
Residents lined 56th Street near the border last year to show their opposition to proposed radio towers in Point Roberts.

Residents opposed to an application to build radio transmission towers just across the border in Point Roberts held rallies on both sides of the line Sunday.

The early afternoon protest saw almost 150 South Deltans gather on 56th Street, not far from the border, while a simultaneous rally in Point Roberts drew an even bigger crowd.

They were trying to raise awareness about a highly controversial proposal by BBC

Broadcasting Inc. to construct five 45-metre (150-foot) steel towers at an undeveloped lot just south of the border with Tsawwassen.

Noting the towers have been a huge problem in Ferndale, Wash., David Bowyer told the Optimist the company behind the application is shameful in trying to build them in the middle of a residential area.

An engineering report submitted by the applicant notes BBC sought a new transmitter site "that would relieve Ferndale residents of the problems that the current location has caused in an effort to repair ties with a community that no longer wants a transmitter site and is unwilling to support the station."

The biggest concerns centre on the interference towers cause for household electronic devices.

One of the criteria for the new site was an area of lower population density, but the presence of Tsawwassen has been left off the application. The report also mentions Point Roberts is seen as acceptable because it's "economically depressed" and has several suitable parcels.

Point resident Suzanne Rosser, a member of the Point Roberts Conservation Society and the coalition group Stop the Towers, said residents in her area are concerned their community will be viewed as an industrial zone and dumping ground for unwanted transmission facilities.

"When the Verizon tower was proposed for Point Roberts, most of the neighbourhood didn't think much of it, thinking they would finally get cell phone service. I said, 'Beware of what you want because once you put it here, there's going to be others.' "Sure enough, Verizon did get to be constructed there, however, it only serves about 20 per cent of the population, while now all the consortiums are staking a claim."

The towers would transmit South Asian radio station KRPI, AM 1550, which broadcasts from Richmond.

The FCC last year granted a construction permit for the towers but a conditional use permit is still required from Whatcom County.

Opponents have hired a lawyer to challenge the FCC decision. Residents here want Industry Canada to urge the FCC to review the application due to the omission of Tsawwassen in the application.

Andrew Skotdal, a consultant for the radio station, told The Vancouver Sun in an emailed statement that KRPI "is looking forward to addressing all of the issues soon."

He previously noted that Tsawwassen residents weren't included in site maps because KRPI was following the rules of Whatcom County, under which it was only obligated to consider residents of that jurisdiction.

Whatcom County's planning department is expected to release its recommendation in the next few weeks.