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Broken Trust


In Part 1, we learn that in mid-August 2022, Islands Trust planners received a formal application from Rogers Communications to install a cell tower near the old firehall. Contrary to its legally mandated responsibilities, the Trust did not inform Hornby residents or our Local Trust Committee (LTC) of the Rogers proposal until late November — effectively silencing what would have become a central LTC election issue last October. 

     The Trust now insists that Rogers is compliant with Hornby’s Model Antenna Siting Strategy and all federal mandates. But Rogers Communications consultant Brian Gregg refuses to hold a public meeting here, leaving this key requirement unfulfilled and raising serious questions regarding Rogers’ intentions and the Trust’s real agenda. 

     Drawing from email correspondence obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the most recent Sept. 8 Islands Trust Staff Report, Part 2 shows how off-island Trust officials continue to subvert our local democratic process in order to push a cell tower that is redundant and dangerous in both the technology it would deploy and the protocol-busting precedent it would set… 


by William Thomas 


Some emails explode… 

     On June 14, 2022, then Islands Trust Regional Planning Manager, Heather Kauer replied to SitePath consultant Brian Gregg’s bombshell, asking, “Could you confirm that what you are proposing is a brand new cell phone tower?” 

     Rogers’ point man answered: “Yes that is correct.”

     Five years after his 2017 open house debacle at Hornby’s community hall, Gregg was trying again. On June 10, he had contacted Kauer with another cell tower proposal — this time, to erect a multi-antenna, 207-foot-high telecommunications tower in the centre of an island renowned for defeating his previous Telus application. An optional 20% extension would not require any additional permitting.

     Yet, 15 months after first approaching the Trust, Brian Gregg has not held the required live public meeting here. And Islands Trust planners were still prodding him to finish notifying school officials, community groups, and Hornby residents closest to a multiple-source of electrosmog far stronger than they could have guessed.

     As of Sept. 24, 2023, Rogers was not yet compliant with their own industry’s ISED requirements, and the Model Antenna Siting Strategy in Hornby’s Official Community Plan (OCP). Both land use regulations call for a live public presentation here.  

     So it seems odd to read Northern Region Planner, Margot Thomaidis declare in the Sept. 8, ’23 Islands Trust Staff Report: “Staff finds that the proponent has fulfilled all consultation processes to date.”

     Even more puzzling, this Trust planning document further states that when Rogers finally went public with its tower application on November 23, 2022 — “neither the planning staff nor Rogers knew the Hornby antenna Strategy had been adopted.” 

     Motion HO-LTC-2022-053 had been moved, seconded and carried, the Trust’s northern regional planner neglected to add, at a Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting attended by herself on September 9. At that time, Kauer had told everyone in attendance, the newly adopted “Model Strategy federally compels companies to engage in extensive public consultation before installation of cell towers.”

     She did not mention the Rogers tower proposal. (LTC official minutes)


Emails released to this reporter under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that on June 14 last year, Gregg emailed Kauer: “Would it be fair to assume that we would likely need their support [Alex and Grant] in order to obtain concurrence at the September 9th meeting?”

     “It’s not a bad idea to reach out to the Trustees individually,” Kauer responded. Especially since notifying the LTC of cell tower applications is required under federal ISED (Industry Canada) regulations and Hornby’s (OCP). 

     By November 23, 2022, the Islands Trust planning staff and Brian Gregg had notified ISED; the CVRD’s Doug DeMarzo; the CVRD’s fire chief; Hornby fire chief, Doug Chicory; former Hornby trustee Tony Law; the K'ómoks and Homalco Nations; Rogers’ Michael August and Claudia Castro; SitePath’s Heather Oliver and Brian Gregg; the RCMP; the forest/lands/resources ministry; Telus representative Doug Anastos; Jesse Hopps (FOR:EX); the Trust’s Director, Local Planning services, David Marlor; and Stefan Cermak, Director, Planning Services Islands Trust of the Rogers tower application. 

     But despite months of discussions, Hornby’s remaining residents and LTC were not told of the proposed tower until a notice appeared in the Comox Valley Record on November 21.


Following this litany of troubling disclosures, at a pivotal September 8, 2023 LTC meeting, Brian Gregg revealed that Rogers intends to lease its strategically located tower to Telus and up to eight other mobile providers. But only after the Rogers front man was accidentally “outed” by a junior planner, while remotely listening into our discussion without anyone in attendance made aware of his presence. Except both Trust planners and our three-member LTC, who facilitated that hidden connection.

     Does cell service for a community already mostly covered by towers on neighboring islands really require a dozen or more wireless transmitters? Since this smorgasbord of signals would easily reach offshore, Hornby’s OCP would again be violated — this time, for not “servicing Hornby Island only.” 

     Interestingly, Hornby’s Official Community Plan (OCP) advocates “prohibition of microwave towers.” 

This may impact you -concerned Gulf Islands residents


Problem is, we electrochemical beings are antennas, too. What happens when even a single elevated transmitter perpetually dials our biological cells billions of times every second? Safety Code 6 warns, “electric and magnetic field exposures can induce internal electric fields (voltage gradients) within biological tissue.” 

     In other words, these overpowering wireless signals can “jimmy the locks” on cellular gateways, opening living cells to pathogens, blocking nutrients and retaining wastes. 

     General malaise, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, heart irregularities, memory gaps, inability to concentrate, agitation and depression can follow. Particularly among pregnant mothers, infants, children, the elderly, and the medically compromised.

     Because wireless damage is cumulative — and since these often-unrecognized injuries occur at power levels far below Health Canada’s industry-designated “safe” limits — why not examine these implications before signing off on a hydra-headed tower that could quickly morph into a full-saturation 5G experiment?

     On one hand, the Trust cautions: “The proponent must, however, anticipate health complaints”. On the other, our extensively documented health concerns are “not relevant.”  

     Instead, staff emphasizes, any LTC decision must consider the advisability of putting a tower in “a community sensitive location.”

     Like smack in the middle of our locally prized and tourist-sought viewscape? Hornby’s Model Antenna Strategy stipulates that cell tower sites which “adversely impact view corridors” are forbidden. 

     Such “local knowledge is valued, particularly with regard to… environmental sensitivities,” this contradictory report virtue signals. So why are Trust officials so determined to erect a multi-antenna cell tower in a Trust-designated “Ecologically Sensitive Area”? 

     It’s out of our hands, staff dodges. The “final decision” to approve telecommunications antenna systems “is made only by ISED.” (Innovation, Science and Economic Development is Industry Canada’s new happy face.)

     Really? When pressed by Dove Creek tower opponent, Suzanne Schiller for “the specific federal legislation (Act and section/clause) that states that ISED can override provincial legislation and provincial authorities” — ISED’s Western Region Operations Manager, Bernie Ries could not supply those references.

     Ottawa’s telecommunications arm can refer an LTC thumbs-down to their dispute resolution process — if that federal body is willing to disregard its own emphasis on “full community involvement”. Tellingly, ISED did not contest Hornby’s community-backed LTC ruling against the proposed Telus tower in 2017.

The Islands Trust is another overreaching corporation

The Islands Trust is another overreaching corporation


Local government can “comment on the proposal,” the Trust report next assures our LTC. Who might ask why safety-spouting Rogers must show the “horizontal distance between the proposed antenna system and the nearest residential, commercial and institutional uses.”

     Brian Gregg insists that constructing long considered and urgently needed affordable housing around its base is perfectly fine. But this would violate Hornby’s OCP, which permits no dwellings within 1 to 3-times a cell tower’s height.

     Perhaps most alarming of all, the Trust’s latest staff report warns our LTC: “An outright ban on any type of antenna system is not defensible and may ultimately not be in [your] best interest.” 

     The godlike planners add that since industry is its own “ultimate approval authority; better to have a progressive policy that recognizes telecommunications antenna systems need to go ‘somewhere’ and use siting criteria to help proponents find the ‘least worst’ spot.” 

     “Least worst?” Stash redundant towers “somewhere”? What about the Precautionary Principle? Or the legislated Islands Trust Act obliging those same officers to “preserve and protect”? 

     Not to mention the never-mentioned 300 signatures on a petition opposing the Rogers project obtained last December and January — at a time when many year-round residents had fled to Mexico, or were away visiting families over Christmas.

     Since Ottawa’s stated goal is high-speed internet for every Canadian, why no mention of Starlink orbiting overhead? Or Hornby’s pending fibre-optic network? 

     Happily, it is permitted “to ask questions,” staff assures our LTC. Just don’t get in the way of urban-biased planners favoring condos and cell towers.

     Clearly, the Trust process is broken. 

     Until those responsible for this travesty apologize and submit their resignations, the Trust’s unwelcome corporate priorities guarantee further trouble ahead.




Islands Trust changing rural landscapes
Cell tower, rural residents -Flickr


William Thomas is a member of the Concerned Residents of Hornby Island (CRHI)


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