On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of joining 300 Tsawwassen and Point Roberts residents at a public forum that was organized to oppose the KRPI application to erect five AM radio transmission towers in Point Roberts, Washington.
The application – already approved by the FCC in the U.S., but awaiting approval from Whatcom County – is to relocate the 50,000 watt transmission towers from Ferndale, Washington to a location in Point Roberts just 330 metres from the Canadian border. It is a proposal that could impact many Tsawwassenites: EM radiation is known to interfere with electronic devices within a two kilometre (2000 metre) area of an AM broadcasting station.
Industry Canada, our national regulator, admits the potential for EM interference – but they note that a 1984 Canada-US Agreement permits Canada to object to a US broadcast application only if there is a potential it might interfere with an existing (or future) Canadian AM station. The Agreement is silent on the issue of blanket interference with private electronic devices. (Industry Canada does offer a website that helps people to cope with EM interference in their home: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf06086.html).
As noted in the KRPI application, the request to move the towers was generated by public complaints about significant interference with everything from TV, to radio, to baby monitors and to PA systems in schools and churches. The application correctly stated that the sparse population in Point Roberts fell under the FCC limits on affected population, but in a move that generated instant distrust, it failed to tell the FCC that 330 meters away, the Canadian community of Tsawwassen, with a population nearing 25,000 would be directly impacted by the transmission towers.
The remaining step in the relocation is permission from Whatcom County officials to occupy the site for the purpose of building the towers. My understanding if that there will be a public hearing to review the permit application.
While KRPI broadcasts from Richmond to a predominantly Canadian audience, it is important to note this is a US proposal and a US decision. Further, the issue is not within Provincial jurisdiction. I will continue, however, to correspond with officials on both sides of the border to help ensure our interests and concerns are acknowledged. You may also wish to contact our local MP, the Hon. Kerry-Lynne Findlay, at Kerry-Lynne.Findlay@parl.gc.ca, or visit the "Stop the Radio Towers" website at http://notowers.webs.com/
Letter from Industry Canada to Vicki Huntington (PDF)
Global BC reports on the public meeting (October 24, 2013):