A Microwave Tower in Naramata next to the KVR?

Proposed Tower


The Proposed TELUS 40 m (131 feet) Microwave transmission tower in Naramata, next to the KVR, has come out of the blue for most Naramata residents and particularly those whose property and businesses will be directly impacted by it, and they are numerous. We, the Bouton & Gauthier families, received notification on Friday June 20th. Peter Ehlers, also involved in gathering the information provided here, received notification a bit earlier. However, many others, although clearly affected by the proposal, never received any notification whatsoever.

The RDOS has never defined a process for such a proposal and as a result the proponents are applying the Default Public Consultation Process stipulated by Industry Canada. This default process has short timelines, probably to the advantage of the proponents, and public consultation was slated to end July 13. Efforts by our Area Director, Karla Kozakevich as well as Peter Ehlers, have resulted in two changes:

• There will now be a Public Information Meeting on July 10 between 5 and 7 pm at the OAP Hall;

• The consultation process has been extended to July 17.

As a result of this default process, and a rather lackadaisical effort to inform the public, very little time has been given for the community to take the proposal into consideration, and appreciate the scale of it and its impact on the KVR. Moreover, as those of us who have been gathering information about the impact of this proposal have found, information supplied by TELUS’ agents has been inaccurate, and in some ways somewhat misleading.

After research, which you will find on this site, it has become reasonably clear to us and a number of others in the community that the proposed location is nothing short of ill-conceived. Its impact on one of the most spectacular sections of the KVR trail will be extreme, and devalue it. As a concept, it could be compared to placing a 131 foot (40 metres) tower by the lake front on Lakeshore Drive in Penticton, or placing that type of structure on either Vancouver or West Vancouver’s Seawalls; after all, the KVR is of comparable value to Naramata.

Of all the possible places in this area such a structure could be built, how TELUS could have thought of this a “good idea” is hard to comprehend.

 The Possible Economic Impact on the Community:

Speculation about the economic impact such a development would have has to be part of the discussion. Everyone knows that, whether well-founded or not, there is a certain amount of public anxiety attached to microwave cell towers. Government agencies may try to reassure the public, but as past experiences have shown, the public is conscious that what is deemed perfectly safe today may turn out, in hindsight, to be less than what was claimed as a certainty.

The anxiety towards these structures is known to have an economic impact, on the value of homes and their desirability, and the environment. This is why Industry Canada, in its list of things that are not considered relevant to their decision-making process, includes the following:

“Concerns that are not relevant include:

  • disputes with members of the public relating to the proponent’s service, but unrelated to antenna installations;
  • potential effects that a proposed antenna system will have on property values or municipal taxes;
  • questions whether the Radiocommunication Act, this document, Safety Code 6, locally established by-laws, other legislation, procedures or processes are valid or should be reformed in some manner.

(End of section 4.2; CPC-2-0-03 — Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems; Industry Canada)

While the federal government may have decided to ignore these factors to avoid opening up the proverbial can of worms, the citizens of a community affected cannot dismiss them as easily.

Any public anxiety over the presence of a microwave cell tower could cause some to shun the Naramata section of the KVR, in favour of others that are free of this type of structure. This is particularly worrisome in this case, as the antennas on the tower would be plainly visible from the KVR Trail, at the level of the trail, and relatively close to it.

Residents of the area are well-aware that this spectacular section of the KVR is an important draw for the community; along with the weather, the beaches, and the wineries and artisans of the village. A thoughtless degradation of the trail’s immediate environment, such as this, would very likely have an impact on the seasonal nature of the local economy, and its well-being.

This should be avoided, especially since other alternatives are clearly available, and the benefits to the community are negligible.

Editor’s Note:
Safety Code 6, mentioned in the quote from Industry Canada’s guidelines regarding microwave cell towers above, was created by Health Canada and adopted by Industry Canada. Called “Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz” Safety Code 6 (2009) sets maximum exposure levels that have been deemed safe by Health Canada, based on the scientific literature to date. These safe exposure levels are generally used in a number of countries, but have been subject to scientific debate. Research is still on-going.

The Information available on this website:

At the top of this website you will find links to its various pages. The complete proposal is available in the Proposal section in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

The section called Tower Site describes the proposed site; offers information about what may well be the most likely primary function of the proposed tower; and provides accurate information about what would be visible from the KVR, as we carried out a professional survey to determine the impact such a structure would have.

The section entitled Photo Simulations provides information about how the proponents produced images that purport to show what the telecom tower would look like on the land. We have our versions, and think them more representative.

The Questions & Answers section provides a list of the questions that have been asked, up to now, of the proponents. The answers, or non-answers they received are included. As more questions get asked and answered, we will add them to this page.

Finally, the section called Alternatives contains solid suggestions for other locations that would more than likely suit TELUS’ needs, if not their financial preference.

Finally, the Updates section provides a place to see all the recent updates to the information provided on this website. Go there to find out about any new developments.

Comments are now closed.

Voice Your Opinion:

If you want to voice your opinion on this proposal, you must send an e-mail to the Agents for TELUS, or use the form provided on last page of their Proposal. This is part of the process as the agents must disclose all the comments and opinions they received to Industry Canada. Time is very short, so act now.

TELUS’ Agents: Standard Land Company Inc.

RDOS Area Director:

The Area Director would like to hear your thoughts or concerns as well: Karla Kozakevich

E-mail contacts for this website’s content:

Denys Bouton
Peter Ehlers

Media contact:

Denys Bouton

Copyright for the information contained on this site, media included:

Distribute freely with attribution (www.whatabadidea.com), this includes text and graphics.

(Attention media: if higher resolution images/graphics are needed, contact us.)

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29 thoughts on “A Microwave Tower in Naramata next to the KVR?

  1. Hugh McClelland

    An Open Letter to TELUS:

    After reading the enclosed “Tower Q&A” document you sent it is apparent to me that Telus is still not really clear on the problem with siting a tower so close to the KVR trail, despite the community’s attempts to help you understand.

    In your document under the sub heading “Is Telus still considering the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail?” your comments are all about reviewing the visibility of the tower with the clear implication that you are still trying to convince the community that the tower will not actually be visible in any significant way.

    You are either deliberately ignoring, or ignoring out of lack of local understanding, the fact that local residents and visiting tourists using the KVR recreational corridor will come into close proximity with the tower.

    At that close proximity there is no way to effectively hide the fact from KVR users that there is a major industrial structure blocking view lines and imposing its presence on the section of the KVR that several levels of government have spent significant tax payer funds developing and promoting as a rural recreational corridor for residents and visitors.

    You are also not acknowledging that there is a strong probability that the visual impact of the tower will get worse over time. Telus staff at the recent public information session confirmed that the tower can be expanded with more antennae and other equipment and that this is part of Telus’s on-going business model which includes renting space to other companies on towers Telus owns.

    The existing trees around the tower site are best described as “open forest” which means the tower will be visible through the trees from many points on the KVR trail. This is in addition to the fact that the tower will also be taller than most of the trees in the area.

    The tower will also become more visible through the forest over time as trees, unlike cell towers, are subject to disease, blow downs, fire, and the right of private property owners to remove them for safety or other reasons.

    Another reality that you fail to mention is that, again according to Telus staff at the public information meeting, it is quite possible that NAV Canada and Transport Canada will, in the future, require that aviation warning lighting and/or markings be added to the tower as regulations and local situations change.

    Many other members of the community have publicly commented on the many other questionable statements and information in your Q&A document, so I do not feel the need to repeat those here.

    However, I think it is important that Telus stop any further consideration of the KVR site and focus its resources on bringing alternative suggestions to the community for our input and guidance.

  2. Rishia McDowell

    Please don’t give up. Thank you for putting forward many questions and several very interesting answers that our community needs to consider carefully. You are right, we don’t have all the facts and corporate expediency isn’t a good defence in this project!

    Keep digging. Thank you again for your intellect and energy.


  3. King Campbell

    Cell tower issues are numerous and vary from health concerns to aesthetics.
    Certainly cell service is a reality today, however the required infrastructure requires proper consultation prior to installation given the associated health concerns and potential impact on property values and enjoyment of the community.

    The KVR is an important attraction to tourists and the spin-off values to wineries restaurants and the local economy have enormous value. Why de-value the beauty associated with the area by placing the tower at the proposed location where it will be clearly visible to tourists and the public?
    A location at higher elevation would be far more reasonable to retain the aesthetics of the area, and the use and enjoyment of the KVR trail by tourists and the local community.

    I highly doubt a higher elevation location would have any impact on service and current location has more to do with cost savings than effective service. Not to mention a more remote location can help to address the health concerns many have with being in close proximity to these towers and infrastructure.

    In addition, items such as right of way for clearing for electrical service, lighting, access or roads for maintenance etc all require proper approval and consultation on public land.
    Perhaps this is the reason a low elevation tower on private land is most cost effective and simple for Telus. Obviously the Telus location on private land is the easy and cheapest solution for Telus, but is NOT the most desirable from the point of view of the public.
    Telus should be obligated to go through a complete consultation process regarding the details of their proposal where people can express their concerns and opinions, and Telus can address them prior to an approval by local government.
    King Campbell

  4. Hugh McClelland

    I firmly disagree with the proposed Telus cell tower location at 1415 Smethurst Road, Naramata,

    In my opinion it would be corporately irresponsible, insensitive and hypocritical to place or even allow a cell tower this closely adjacent to the KVR trail and this community, especially for a corporation who uses versions of the tag line “It’s in our nature to care” and features nature and wildlife prominently in their advertising.

    After reviewing the info provided by Telus on July 10 at the info session and on-line I still have the following concerns:
    • This location will spoil the views from the section of the KVR between Smethurst Road and the first northern lookout bench.
    • This section of the KVR has recently had expensive upgrades done to it as a rural recreation corridor that is part of part of the Trans Canada Trail and is used heavily by both locals and tourists as a recreational area throughout the year.
    • The argument that trees will screen some of the view of the tower is misguided in that the tower will be higher than many if not all of the surrounding trees, there are already points on the KVR trail where the markings for the base of the tower are clearly visible, and over the lifetime of the tower (50 years by Telus estimate) it is reasonable to assume that some of the surrounding trees will be removed by private land owners, disease and blow-downs.
    • Painting the tower green will not camouflage the tower in any significant way when seen from the KVR or up to a kilometre away, plus there is some question as to whether the antennae and other equipment on the tower and the ground would be painted green as some Telus staff at the July 10 session expressed concern about it affecting performance.
    • The community of Naramata’s view lines will be affected by this tower from more than the KVR. Now that I am familiar with the proposed location it is clear that this tower will be quite close and visible from multiple points on Naramata Road, North Naramata Road and from multiple points in Naramata Village.

    This location also raises my concern about the use ALR land for non-ALR purposes. The concerns here are both removing this particular section of property and also establishing a precedent for using ALR land in this way. It is entirely feasible that this proposed location by Telus is only the beginning of increasing requests for ALR land to site additional towers as the need for data transmission increases over the coming years. I think it is important that it is stated clearly that this is, in my opinion, not appropriate use of ALR lands.

    Alternatives that I suggest in order of priority are:
    1. Telus shares space on existing towers.
    2. Telus puts a tower across the lake on Mount Nkwala near the existing towers there.
    3. Telus builds a tree disguised tower at least a kilometer above the KVR after local consultation to ensure it is not, again, in a recreational or view corridor.
    4. Telus builds a tower well above the KVR near existing installations such as the power lines after local consultation to ensure that it is not inadvertently in a recreation or view corridor.

  5. Dale T.

    There is no need for this tower to be built where they want to put it, it will look as unsightly as the power poles put up on the mountain above south main, and those power poles can be seen from miles away, this is just another sign of corporate greed, and no matter what the people say, they will just go ahead and do it anyways, like they do with everything else, and yes, I would like to know what the purpose of this tower is for, and why it has to go right there.

  6. P. Frank Ehlers

    I am a Telus shareholder.

    I’ve lived long enough to have made my share of mistakes. When a person makes a mistake, the honourable thing to do is to try to correct that mistake. Corporate behaviour should be no different; I would expect “my” company to be a good corporate citizen. It seems clear that, in this case, Telus has goofed. They failed miserably to solicit the views of those most directly affected by their choice of tower location. And at the proposed location the tower would clearly have a seriously detrimental effect on the neighbourhood and on the enjoyment that KVR trail users have come to expect.

    It took a lot of effort by many individuals to turn the old disused KVR line into the wonderful tourist attraction that the trail is today. What a shame to spoil that just because Telus can’t be bothered to consider alternatives.

    The right thing for Telus to do is to retract their proposal. Good alternatives exist. It’s not a matter of a great deal of money to relocate the tower (if a tower is even necessary). I suspect that the primary reason for the proposed location is simply convenience. That, unfortunately, is an all-too-common aspect of the engineering/business mindset. But I also know that engineers, once shown that their initial proposal has unintended side effects (negative externalities in economist-speak), are usually willing to improve their plans. The decision to favour the current proposal was made by a human. That human, like all humans, is subject to occasionally “getting it wrong”. There is no shame in admitting that the decision may have been insufficiently considered.

    It may not be widely known but Telus has a philosophy “to give where we live” (charitable donations) and was the first Canadian company to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally (for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals).

    As a Telus shareholder, I am profoundly ashamed of the current proposal. Surely, a 24-billion dollar company can do better.

    I call on Darren Entwistle (Executive Chairman of the Board) and Joseph Natale (President and CEO) to visit the site and talk to citizens. Please, Gentlemen, show that Telus is capable of doing the right thing.

    Let’s come up with a better proposal.

  7. Paula Sheridan

    I have sent in my form to Telus voicing my complete disapproval of this proposed eyesore/detraction from one of the most scenic parts of the KVR. Myra Canyon may have the most visitors to the KVR, but most of our clients feel that the most scenic part is descending to Naramata – and I agree. The original KVR, was built to link communities and is now an incredible asset for those communities in terms of a recreational area for hiking and biking for locals and an international destination trail for people from all over the world – it should not be detracted from by the installation of a massive and unsightly tower which will conceivably be detrimental to the tourism benefits that can be gained from maintaining and caring for this stunning landscape.

  8. concerned neigbhour

    Rogers will not be too far behind with a tower of their own. Only 1 tower should be built to accommodate both companies… and it should look like a tree! They can do it, just not in their “$500K” budget

  9. Malachi Constant

    Have you tried contacting the landowner who approved the location? I think you need to put pressure on this guy who I understand does not live in the area, and seems to have no cares or responsibilities for the community. A similar situation occurred here in Winlaw and Telus eventually skulked away after the community rallied in opposition to a proposed tower within 500m of homes.

  10. Allan Stark

    If I lived in Naramata, I would be asking this question of Telus:
    Is this tower actually being proposed mainly for the benefit of people IN Naramata? I am not familiar with the line of sight from that exact location on Smethurst Road but I would seriously wonder if some areas of Naramata would be in the “shadow” and may not even be able to utilize the tower for cel service. It would definately benefit Trout Creek, parts of Summerland and Highway 97 to Peachland..but Naramata? Not so sure. I would be asking the design engineer and trying to get an honest answer. In my opinion, a tower located in Trout Creek would benefit Naramata far more than one up Smethurst Road but then who in Trout Creek would want a cel tower in their backyard that might benefit Naramata? I think we already have one or two up Nkwala, Okanagan and Campbell Mountains; how many more are really necessary? ETA: I noticed today that someone (not sure which provider) has erected a cel tower on private land above 3290 South Main Street in Penticton; the land in question would be in the 3200 block of Valleyview Road. I don’t personally recall any public debate on this one; unless I missed it; just recently “appeared”. Citizens need to be on guard and speak up if they have concerns.

    1. Pete Ehlers

      In reply to Allan Stark: Telus, through it’s representative, has remained steadfastly adamant that this tower is required to improve service to only the community of Naramata. We, of course, have some some doubts that improving service in Naramata is the sole reason behind this proposed tower, as a careful read through the section of the site titled “Tower Site” will explain, but we have no doubts that a 40m tall tower situated at the proposed location would indeed serve well for that stated sole objective, as would a tower located further east, higher, above and behind the KVR Trail, and away from residential neighbourhoods and the recently upgraded (using significant public monies) primary and heavily used, by both tourists and locals alike, section of the KVR Trail, with the added benefit of greater coverage to the often accessed remote back country areas to increase public safety, or on Mt Nkwala where there are already 4 tower structures (as proven by Rogers, and see the “Alternatives” section)

      1. Allan Stark

        Again, I state that I would be very wary of what the REAL purpose of Telus putting a tower above Naramata on Smethurst Road. Is it REALLY to improve coverage to all of Naramata or not? Short of putting up a balloon or drone at the 130 foot mark, its hard to say which parts of Naramata would be covered properly and which ones may not. Cel towers and phones do not completely rely on absolute “line of sight” conditions but anything major (as in Hills, rocks) in the way would not be optimum. In my opinion (and I have been involved in radio; installing and maintaining Mountain top radio sites for 30+years), it would make much more sense to put the tower on the West side of the Lake, in an area such as the Summerland Research Station. It could be short or even located on top of an existing building. That is Federal land and since Industry Canada is responsible for Spectrum Management and Tower installations, it would likely be far easier to obtain permission there. That land area is high enough, SEES most all of Naramata and there are few houses nearby (if anyone is concerned about radiation). Getting back to the East side, there are also major power poles near the KVR and celphone companies have used existing powerpoles with good success. There ARE alternative sites and possibilities; I wouldn’t let Telus or any other company rush into anything. Hire your own engineer to study the proposal if nothing else.

        1. Pete Ehlers

          Thank you for your thoughts and observations, Mr. Stark. Telus, not surprisingly, will not affirm for us the “real purpose” of this tower size and location. It is not difficult to see that there are areas of Naramata (mainly in its north end, see image on Tower Site section) that would likely not benefit with better coverage from this proposed tower. I agree with your opinion that a tower on the west side of the lake is obviously a much better solution to improving service to Naramata. The Summerland Research Station is an interesting alternative, but we find it difficult to understand why co-location on one of the 4 towers currently in place atop Mt. Nkwala and currently servicing Naramata very well, as mandated by Industry Canada, is not the ideal location and solution to improving Telus service in Naramata and beyond.

          I believe it’s a matter of assets versus liabilities, co-location means paying to lease space, a liability, whereas dropping their own towers in all prime locations to service as high a potential client base as possible, even where that tower location would replicate some of currently serviced populations from other installed infrastructure, makes for assets on which to lease out space to other providers, and getting that infrastructure installed before any other competitor comes along to do it themselves to avoid their own leasing liabilities makes good business sense, especially for companies known to be purely profit-driven and protectionist, and willing to do whatever they can to maintain high client numbers and fees.

          The following Globe and Mail article may shed some light on Telus’ incentives to install as much infrastructure, in as short a timeframe, as possible:


  11. Thor clausen

    The process is flawed..The good citizens of Naramata should have been involved in the choosing of an appropriate location that had lesser impact on the surrounding properties and activities

  12. H. Clausrn

    In full support of my friends in Naramata – please find a better location for that god-aweful eyesore!

  13. Laura J.

    Thank you for putting together this website to raise awareness of this issue. As a mother of two young children, I strongly oppose the erection of any further cell phone towers in our communities. So many studies have been published confirming what many of us already know, cell phone towers and wi-fi can cause cancer, leukemia in young children and many other harmful health effects. We should be removing them from communities where people live and where children go to school, instead of installing new ones. Thank you for all your work. Telus needs to listen to our community and cancel this plan.

  14. Tina Baird

    Reading the Q&A information above I am very concerned about the views from the KVR going North from Smethurst. The proposed tower height is above the trail grade by over 16 feet and above the tops of the surrounding trees plus the detailed plans supplied by Telus show that the top of the tower, which will be visible over the trees from the KVR, is the part of the tower that is studded with panel antennas, RU units and combiners. In other words not something that is going to blend into the view.
    Then where the KVR turns West just North of Smethurst there is currently a beautiful southern view across rolling vineyards and orchards to the lake, Penticton and mountains beyond. In that view you can currently see the markings for where the base of the tower will be and there are only a few trees. In other words from this view point anyone on the trail will be treated to a foreground view of the full height of a 130 foot green metal tower (I believe that is 12 – 13 stories high) studded with panel and dish antennas as well as other hardware.
    It seems ridiculous that this section of the KVR, that so many of us that live here enjoy on a regular basis year round, should have its views compromised in this way. I am sure that with only a slight further expenditure of effort the techs at Telus would be able to find a much more community friendly option.

  15. Hugh McClelland

    A general comment to people reading this is if you are concerned please make sure your neighbours and friends in the area are aware of the July 10 meeting and the July 13 written comment deadline. I was surprised this evening how many of my neighbours were either unaware of the proposed tower or did not have any understanding of its proposed size or location. One of the most effective things we can do about this tower is have concerned residents voice their objections to this towers’ location in our community and proximity to one of our main recreation areas – but in order to register their concern people need to be aware of what is going on and what they can do. So spread the word while it can still have some effect.

  16. Arv Hardin

    These exist of course in a lot of places now. Issues I’d be most concern about would be detrimental health effects as a function of distance from the towers. There have been studies that show holding some cell phones close to your brain can cause tumors. The higher power of transmitters from towers could be even more detrimental to peoples health.

  17. Joanne Finn

    Great job on the website!
    We’ve printed, filled out, scanned and emailed the form to email address provided.
    I’d like to suggest the both the form and email address the form is to be sent to, be included on the story comments on Mynaramata.com in addition finding it at the website.
    Thank you again for all your hard work.

  18. Signy Fredrickson

    Thank-you for bringing attention to this important issue. Here in Winlaw, we had a similar situation, but the community’s strong response and passion to protect local values prevailed! Take heart and keep up the pressure. Naramata does NOT need a cell tower! The KVR and surrounding vineyards are a huge draw for tourists and their value would be permanently damaged by a tower.

  19. Lorna Hancock

    Simply a great website. Good going on putting this together.

    You undoubtedly don’t need MORE information on how bad these towers are, ie the health impacts, but http://www.hans.org has had a lot of people contact them on this issue. If you go to that website and type in ‘cell towers’, you will get a number of articles posted by HANS. Milt Bowling has been the advocate for the organization, working hard to inform people.

    I would be at the public information meeting, but our daughter just delivered a baby yesterday and grand parents have no choice but to be there at a time like that.

    Good luck to you!
    Lorna (Naramata)

  20. wendy EHLERS

    I believe it is madness to consider erecting a cell tower in Naramata, one of the most beautiful locations in the Okanagan Valley. Rogers have been able to offer perfectly good cell coverage to the Naramata area, without erecting a tower, so why is it not possible for Telus to do the same? I am an ex-resident of Naramata but frequent visitor to Naramata and I feel very strongly that this cell tower proposal is a bad idea.

  21. Julian Ehlers

    whatagoodidea to make the whatabadidea site. Great job! The photo simulations show clearly that the proposed tower would be an eyesore from many vantage points. Having lived on Smethurst Rd near the proposed tower site, I would not have wanted the tower there then, nor do I think it is a good idea now. There must be other, less intrusive sites available for this tower. It is an iconic Okanagan view from the KVR above Peter, Georg, and Laura’s place; putting a cell tower in that view would tangibly reduce the appeal of the Naramata area and the Okanagan as a whole.

  22. Ria Clausen

    This project impacts the community of Naramata and tourist alike by leaving a visual eyesore that could be better located elsewhere. I hope Telus reconsiders!

  23. Grant Prestholdt

    Insanity driven by corporate greed. To place a 13 story telecommunications tower, complete with 24/7 flashing Navigation lights in the heart of one of most beautiful locations in BC is without question, simply and fundamentally wrong on so many levels. A true example of “pave paradise and put up a parking lot”… and for what really? If you are unhappy with your Telus coverage, drop them. Rogers has great coverage, and you can stand up against this kind of corporate greed and insanity, while standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow neighbors and support the community you love enough to proudly call home. If you never stand up against anything, you will fall for everything. It is a Telecommunications giant hoping apathy on the part of sleepy little Naramata will result in them once again getting their way at the expense of a community and the environment. Wake up, get mad, stand together and tell Telus Thanks, but no thanks to your scar on our community.

  24. Silka Kurth

    Great website with excellent information. Thank you for your efforts to protect Naramata’s pristine environment. With Facebook and Twitter, your message should reach thousands in time to stop this madness by Telus. Good job, Peter, to get a Public Information meeting date and the conultation process extended. Good Luck from a frequent visitor to Naramata.
    Silka Kurth, San Diego, CA

Comments are closed.