Tsawwassenites looking to Ottawa for help

Residents fighting Point Roberts radio towers upset federal government isn't doing more

Tsawwassen residents fighting a contentious plan to install a series of radio transmission towers just across the border in Point Roberts are angered the Canadian government isn't doing more to help.

In recent days Industry Minister James Moore has sent a response letter to several residents stating the issue is subject to a 1984 agreement between Canada and the United States relating to AM broadcasting services.

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"The proposed AM radio station KRPI is the responsibility of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States," Moore wrote. "The FCC has confirmed that the proposal meets all its regulatory requirements, including those for health and safety and mitigating the impact of the proposed AM station on the electronic devices of local residents.

"With respect to the effect the move of KRPI may have on electronic devices, the owners of KRPI have publicly committed to resolving any issues where electronic devices of local Canadian and United States residents may malfunction due to the proximity of the proposed AM radio station," Moore added.

BBC Broadcasting Inc. wants to construct five 45-metre (150-foot) steel towers on an undeveloped lot on McKenzie Way in Point Roberts, about 330 metres from the border.

The towers would transmit South Asian radio station KRPI, AM 1550, which broadcasts throughout the Lower Mainland from studios in Richmond. Also known as Sher-E-Punjab AM 1550, the company currently uses towers in Ferndale, Wash.

The FCC granted a construction permit but a conditional use a permit is required from Whatcom County, which is still dealing with the application. Residents in South Delta and Point Roberts have joined forces to fight the application on several fronts, many here saying it is seriously flawed in that the entire community of Tsawwassen was deliberately left out of the map in the application.

They've been counting on Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, as well as Industry Canada, to oppose the application, saying that in Canada radio towers would never be permitted adjacent to a densely populated neighbourhood, one that would be blanketed by powerful radio waves that wreak havoc with household electronic devices.

Moore's, response, however, has infuriated the residents, many accusing the federal government of being guilty of "willful ignorance" on the issue.

Asked if Moore is concerned Tsawwassen was omitted from the map, Jake Enwright, the minister's press secretary, told the Optimist Findlay has informed Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird of the community's concerns.

"We appreciate that the residents of Tsawwassen want to have their voices heard by the FCC regarding this," said Enwright. Meanwhile, a number of residents want Findlay, the minister of national revenue, to do more than pass along their concerns.

When contacted by the Optimist for comment, Findlay provided a lengthy letter to the editor (see Page 11).

"I hear the concerns regarding the proposed Point Roberts radio towers, understand and empathize with them, and, as the member of Parliament, have taken action...," she wrote.

Her letter includes a list of existing radio towers in Richmond and Delta that haven't drawn any complaints, however Tsawwassen resident Jim Ronback told the Optimist those were built in sparsely populated areas to meet Industry Canada regulations.

"Kerry-Lynne Findlay and Minister James Moore of Industry Canada appear to be willfully blind or deliberately ignorant to the plight facing the residents of Tsawwassen whose radios and electronic devices will be overloaded and rendered useless because of the powerful 50,000-watt radio tower array proposed just across the border in Point Roberts," Ronback said.

"By doing this subterfuge of locating towers on the U.S. side of the border to serve their Canadian market, radio station KRPI 1550 AM appears to be able to circumvent the tower siting regulations of both Canada and the U.S.," he added.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said she knows Findlay has worked on the issue, but acknowledged residents feel Findlay needs to reengage and arrange a meeting with Moore.

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