The Strathcona Regional District has approved funding for a commercial grade radio repeater for emergency services. It will be installed on a new radio tower to be built on Quadra Island. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Regional District approves funding for emergency radio repeater on Quadra

Commercial grade system will be installed on new tower being built near Heriot Bay

The Strathcona Regional District is purchasing an amateur radio repeater to assist emergency communications on Quadra Island.

Area C Director Jim Abrams wasn’t initially clear why the regional district was considering the purchase because there are already a number of amateur radio repeaters in the region. The issue appeared on the agenda at the regional district earlier this month and again last week.

“This is really a lot of confusion here,” he said at the May 24 meeting.

He knew of a proposal for a tower to be constructed to provide VHF radio communications for emergency services.

Abrams said he was aware that North Island Communications was planning to build a communications tower, which had meant a lengthy process involving siting issues, approvals and an environmental assessment.

“That was the first I’d heard of that,” Abrams said.

There are already ample sites, he added, with amateur radio equipment in place that can be used for emergency service.

“My question is, ‘why are we, as a regional district, buying this?’”

The proposal was for the SRD to purchase the radio repeater, estimated at $11,000 if installed on the tower now, as opposed to after a tower is constructed at which point it would rise to $14,000. Annual costs for the system are estimated at $2,000.

“If that’s what you want to do, fine, because that will come out of the emergency program…. so everybody will be paying for it,” Abrams added.

Currently, the regional district relies on a privately owned, amateur radio repeater on Mt. Menzies. The recommendation before the board, said chief adminstrative officer David Leitch, was to install the SRD’s own commercial grade amateur radio repeater on the new first responder tower that North Island Communictions will erect on Quadra Island. He clarified the money is simply for the repeater and not the tower. According to the report at the last meeting, SRD staff was waiting for confirmation that the province had approved NIC’s proposal. The regional district has since learned the company has permission to install a communication site with a two-way radio repeater, helipad and hut near Heriot Bay. Currently, there is a temporary structure in place until the tower is erected.

The board unanimously passed resolutions at the May 24 meeting to proceed with the installation of the repeater on Quadra and amend its five-year financial plan to reflect the purchase and operation of the system.

(This story has been changed from a previous version.)