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Community FOIA Presentation


by William Thomas

Waiting For The Hornby Bus -Will Thomas photo

Hornby Island

Nov. 12, 2023

THANK YOU for braving the elements to be here today. I must confess that there are few things I like better than snuggling into a warm dry bed listening to the wind howl and the rain hammer down — knowing I won’t soon have to go back on deck to relieve the watch. During our eight-year sail around the Pacific, wherever Thea and I rowed ashore, we sought local knowledge. Only the longtime inhabitants of a place know what works best around their island — and what to avoid. 

     It’s an attitude the Islands Trust Planners would do well to emulate. Instead, we have their underhanded attempt to inflict another cell tower on us after we’ve already said no. Let me quickly lay out the Trust’s case against itself…

     Last August 14th — on behalf of the Concerned Residents of Hornby Island — CRHI — I emailed a request to the Islands Trust under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of all communications concerning the Rogers application. 

     How long had the Trust known about the Rogers proposal before informing us? What I was after was the date of the first email from SitePath Consulting’s Brian Gregg notifying the Trust of his client’s intentions. What came back were revelations you may find disturbing.

     Rewind to June 10, 2000 22. On behalf of Rogers Communications, Brian Gregg emailed Islands Trust  Regional Planning Manager,  Heather Kauer, with a proposal to erect a 200-foot-high telecommunications tower in the centre of our Island. An optional 40-foot extension would require no additional permits.

     June 10th!

     Kauer emailed Gregg: “Could you confirm that what you are proposing is a brand new cellphone tower?” Rogers’ front man answered: “Yes that is correct.”

     Lessons had been learned from his Telus tower debacle in 2017. This time around, there would be no open house on Hornby showing off Rogers’ proposed industrial installation — with its multiple antennas, high fences, floodlights and surveillance cameras.  

     But Innovation, Science & Economic Development — Industry Canada’s rebranded “ISED” — requires “extensive public consultation”  before cell towers can be approved. 

     “Would it be fair to assume that we would likely need”  the support of Alex and Grant  “in order to obtain concurrence at the September 9th meeting?” Gregg wanted to know. 

     Kauer replied: “It’s not a bad idea.”

     But our trustees were not notified. Neither were we.

Fate of a Linden Tree exposed to cell tower frequencies -German study

On August 14, 2000 22  Rogers formally submitted their cell tower application to Trust Staff, the CVRD and Crown Land authorities. Hornby’s Official Community Plan cautions against siting cell towers in Aquifers and Environmentally Sensitive Areas — including Protected Area 2A, which Rogers was after. Moreover, our OCP recommends prohibiting commercial microwave towers.

     Gregg brushed this aside. It was crucial to obtain a vote for concurrence before the Trust’s antenna  siting  protocols came into effect. Among other stipulations, these new regulations “Discourage” cell towers within “bird and wildlife habitat,” or anywhere that might “adversely impact view corridors”  or “affect their scenic qualities.”

     Hornby’s even stricter antenna protocols had been drafted in response to the Telus experience. But on September 9, Heather Kauer put forward the Trust’s Model Strategy for Antenna Systems. As she reminded everyone present, the “Model Strategy federally compels companies to engage in extensive public consultation before installation of cell towers.” 

     Underline, federally compels.

     What she did not announce — as the minutes show and the FOYA confirms — was the Rogers application, the previous month.

     Why hadn’t she spoken up?

     “I forgot,” Kauer later explained. 

     Which seemed curious. Since she had exchanged emails with Brian Gregg right “up to September 8th”. 

Grand Entrance, Hornby Island Fall Fair 2022 -Will Thomas photo

Grand Entrance, Hornby Island Fall Fair 2022 -Will Thomas photo

Another opportunity for public notification would come during the November LTC meeting. But it was cancelled.  Instead, from June to late November 2022, between them, SitePath and the Islands  Trust planners consulted with ISED,  the CVRD,  the K'ómoks and Hom-alco Nations, the RCMP,  the forest/lands/resources ministry,  Telus,  the Trust directors of Planning Services and Local Planning services — and industry regulator FOREX. 

     It seems the only people Site/Path and the Trust did not inform were this community, and our trustees. 

     By now you might be asking, what was going on? 

     Our upcoming LTC elections,  that’s what.    

      Jeff Rabena was running on a generic, “no tower” ticket. Who knows what other candidates would enter the race to oppose the Rogers tower if that project became known?                        

     The Trust/Rogers blackout held. No political campaigns to stop the Rogers tower were launched. The election for Hornby’s Local Trust Committee was held on October 15. Jeff Rabena lost by 19 votes. And Heather Kauer left the Islands Trust to go work for the City of Abbotsford.

     On November 23, the first public notification of the Rogers application appeared in the Comox Valley Record. 

     Our LTC was blindsided. Alex Allen emailed Brian Gregg to say he was “quite dismayed” that he and Grant Scott had only just heard of the Rogers Cell Tower proposal. “This is completely unacceptable,” he wrote. 

     The timing was wrong and the process  too fast, Alex  protested. Observing that many residents would be traveling off-island, Trustee Allen asked Gregg “to de-lay this whole proposal process until at least March 2023.”

     Gregg refused. When Alex renewed his appeal for postponement at a subsequent LTC meeting, he was rebuffed by Kauer’s replacement, Margot Thomaidis — who informed him this was unnecessary, as she would help Rogers achieve compliance. But our trustee was not asking the planner to continue assisting Rogers. He was advocating for due process.                                                                                                                     

     The blow-out came during our most recent LTC meeting on September 8 this year, when Alex called for a vote of nonconcurrence. Thomaidis told him he couldn’t do that.

     Our Trust legal expert says the planner was out of line. Alex had every right to call for a vote. Because in her Staff Report, Thomaidis had remarkably ruled: “Staff finds that the proponent has fulfilled all consultation processes to date.” 


Clustered 5G antenna installation

How was this possible when Rogers had not held the in-person “public information meeting” needed to comply with ISED requirements and the Trust’s antenna  siting  model? The same Staff Report described how Rogers’ five transmitters would be augmented by another eight antennas from other mobile service providers.

     Why all this firepower for lil’ ol’ Hornby? With much of Hornby already receiving cell coverage from neighbouring islands, Starlink orbiting overhead, and hyper-speed, fibre-optic internet slated to come online,  did we really need an industrial tower violating the spirit of our OCP,  blighting the views that have brought so many here,  disturbing wildlife and risking a forest fire — while spreading electrosmog pollution 24/7?   

     Rogers says they want to provide cell service to “boaters” and nearby islands in the Salish Sea. But our OCP says that all wireless installations “should be for servicing Hornby Island only.” 

     In response to a queery from trustee Grant, Thomaidis blurted out: “Let’s ask Brian. He’s listening in right now.” Unannounced, Brian Gregg had been lurking online.                                

     This latest demonstration of bad faith did not go over well with those in attendance on Sept.  8. Likewise — the Trust’s censoring of that meeting’s video record. Happily, a CRHI member recorded that session on her phone. And the Trust was persuaded to post their entire clip.

     Everyone hoped to get some straight answers at the next LTC public meeting on November 3rd. 

     You guessed it. Citing travel costs and lack of an agenda — at least a public one — Staff has moved this month’s meeting to the December holidays. Even worse, this substitute venue will be restricted to those with the time, know-how, and download speeds to log on — a procedure even our trustees have had difficulty with.                                  

     Call it, top-down governance by remote control. Rather than face the community impacted by their decisions — our off-island, urban planners are staying away. Just like their pal, Gregg. 

     With the Trust Corporation’s tower process broken beyond repair, CRHI is no longer requesting a too-long-delayed — and apparently no longer necessary — Rogers open house. Instead, the Concerned Residents of Hornby Island and our lawyer,  Carla Conkin  want the Rogers cell tower application thrown out.  Scrapped.  Without any chance of revival.

     Right now, who can trust the Trust? It’s time to reclaim our island and our shared future. That’s what we are here to discuss. And that is what we are going to do — together.

     Last week, CRHI sent our FOYA findings to the CVRD officer in charge of regional district elections — and requested a formal investigation into election interference by the Islands Trust.                                                   


     Thank you for your attention, community involvement — and any contributions you can make to the Concerned Residents’ legal defense fund. 

Cat & Dog, Hornby Island -Will Thomas Photo

    Cat & Dog, Hornby Island -Will Thomas Photo

(updated: Rogers proposes 5 transmitters + 8 others)                                   

Had enough of corporate interference in local issues? Good.  

Contact these overlords now:


Electoral Areas Services Committee members:

Daniel Arbour, Area A director: reachme@danielarbour.ca 250-650-8480


Head Office

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne


Re: ISED Wireless policy — British Columbia

ISED Regional Office

Bernie Ries, Manager - Vancouver Island District Office, ISED 


(250) 216-0728 


Tony Staffieri, CEO

Rogers Head Office

Rogers Communications Inc. 

333 Bloor Street East, 7th Floor Toronto,ON M4W 1G

Phone: 1 888 764-3771

Brent Johnston, President, Wireless Services


HEALTH CANADA (Safety Code 6)

Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau (EMFs)

Health Canada

775 Brookfield Road

A.L. 6302C

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1C1



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