Letters to the Editor: Jan. 11

Moyie Communications Tower; A River Captured; Marysville Benchlands, and the strange story of Constable Sontag

Moyie communications tower

The RDEK board of directors recently voted down a measure necessary for construction of a replacement communications tower to proceed here in Moyie.

Having attended the Moyie townhall meetings I am surprised and dismayed by this decision since those opposed presented absolutely no statistical data to support their opposition, which was based solely on a “not in my back yard” approach.

It is apparent that both the RDEK Board and many of those opposed do not clearly understand the importance of this tower to the residents of the area and in many cases, appear to be misinformed about the need for replacement, the costs and the safety concerns.

To that end the following facts should be considered:

• The proposition is not to construct a new tower, but to replace a long existing communications tower that has been inspected and deemed to be structurally unsafe due to its age.

• The existing tower has in fact functioned as a microwave communications tower at its current location in Moyie for approximately 30 years without any previous health or safety concerns from nearby residents.

• The proposal is to locate the replacement tower on exactly the same location as the previous tower which has functioned safely for decades.

• Alternative sites have been investigated, but do not offer the line-of-sight, electrical power or fiber-optic access necessary for dependable internet service.

• The microwave levels from the long existing tower are less than those currently present in most homes with a wireless router, cell phone, microwave oven etc.

• The new tower would be taller than the existing tower and would utilize current technology, making it safer than the tower that has existed for many years.

• Demolition of the existing tower and construction of the replacement tower would be paid for by the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, which is an arm of the Columbia Basin Trust. There would be no cost to the residence of the Moyie lake area.

• If this proposition is not approved through an appeal process, the existing tower which has been condemned, must immediately be demolished. The estimated cost of demolition is $20,000 and this expense would be paid for by the residents of Moyie through their governing body, the Moyie Community Association, virtually bankrupting the Community Association.

• Without a replacement communication tower, many Moyie Lake area residents would then be without internet service since, because of their location, no alternative service exists.

• Several residents of the Moyie Lake area rely on internet service to carry-on their home- based businesses, including a home-based teacher. Without the availability of internet service these businesses cannot continue.

•The internet served is a critical component in our communication network during the 2017 fire evacuations. Without internet service this component will not be available when the next regional emergency occurs.

I urge readers to contact the RDEK and encourage them to reconsider their earlier decision based on these facts rather than the unsubstantiated concerns that were expressed by opponents at the review meeting.

Bill Sanderman


Constable Sontag

I enjoyed the short article in Friday’s paper (The Way it Was: Kimberley Bulletin) about a 1950 trial where it stated RCMP Constable Fred Sontag slapped an inebriated Jack Roth twice while depositing him in a cell in Kimberley. I remember when Jack Kirkup, of the BC Police Force, capably policed Kimberley as a one man police force, and driving the car home, on the non-busy roads, after a few brews in one of the busy pubs, was not then a concern. But in the1950s and the new RCMP policing on us — drinking and driving became a serious issue. Prosecutions and fines increased intensely, led by an ambitious Constable Sontag. He was very busy, and became very unpopular. I worked as an underground mine surveyor at the time, and the Monday lunch room gossip was always the actions of Fred Sontag on the weekend. The Friday article mentions some people wanting to expel him from Kimberley.

Here is the true end of this story. Sontag was renting a house on Spokane Street, near my home, just down fromthe present library, with his small Volkswagon car in the back yard. After a very loud early morning explosion, likely using dynamite from the Sullivan Mine, the car was destroyed, being blown up. After an investigation,finding nothing, Constable Sontag was removed from Kimberley.

Milton ‘Red’ Mellor


A River captured

After reading a book called “A River Captured” by Eileen Pearkes, one realizes how important it is that Canadians get to know the Columbia River Treaty history. It is imperative that our local government and provincial government get involved to insure the Federal Government and negotiating team represent us well. Eileen Pearkes’ knowledge would be a great asset to have on this team.

I have personally contacted out local MP Wayne Stetski and Area C Director Rob Gay and gifted them with a book. The RDEK is greatly affected by the treaty.

Canada received annual power I payments. Between 2003 through 2009 we received between $223 million to $319 million per year. Between 2007 and 2013 it dropped to $89 million. Why?

Canada received a total of $60.4 million for 60 years of flood control. The City of Calgary flood alone cost over $2 billion. The U.S. should be paying more for flood control.

The U.S. used water for irrigation. This was not accounted for in the treaty. The agricultural business is worth billions of dollars to the U.S. Canada should be compensated.

Under the treaty, Canada cleared Libby Dam Reservoir, relocated the people and flooded 40 miles of country. Canada did not receive any compensation. The dam generates plus or minus $46 million of electricity yearly.

There are 11 power producing dams on the U.S. side of the Columbia River, plus the Libby Dam which is on the the Kootenay River. They produce an average annual output of 72,000 GW of electricity. Proper to the treaty, water shortage during the year caused a large percentage of turbines to be shut down.

Canadian problems from the dam construction that were not taken into account are:

• Reservoirs not properly cleared, resulting in greenhouse emissions from submerged trees and vegetation;

• Lost wetlands, fisheries and fertile agricultural land;

• Limited recreational use;

• Major dust problems from low water in reservoirs.

We have an obligation to future generations not to make the same mistakes. Read the book and make your voices heard.

Mario Scodellaro


Marysville Benchlands

I need to express my concerns regarding the last three Official Community Plan meetings held at Kimberley City Hall regarding the Benchlands.

There have been a lot of things said regarding the Marysville Benchlands and our community. The first meeting I attended in October 2017 was stating what council wanted to do with the Benchlands. It was said that this particular area was to be zoned as light industrial with a ten acre parcel to be sold. The next meeting I attended in November 2018 the parcel of land being discussed was now to be sold in ten one acre lots and zoned “mixed”. This meant that the area was going to be zoned as light industrial, commercial, commercial with residential (like our downtown core) and residential. I don’t see how this can be considered as an Official Community Plan. It’s not.

It was stated at one of the meetings in December that Kimberley has only service industry jobs to offer, people earning minimum wage and that we need to bring in more light industry so people can make better wages. Service industry jobs are a necessity for a four seasons tourism town to survive.

Are we forgetting about all the people working in Kimberley who ARE making a decent wage? We have the employees of the City of Kimberley, Skookumchuk Pulp, East Kootenay Regional Hospital, the College of the Rockies, the School District for both Kimberley and Cranbrook and all the construction companies in both Kimberley and Cranbrook. We also have doctors and lawyers who work in Kimberley as well. It was also stated that when Cominco was here that the average wage was $100,000. I believe that statement is a very inaccurate comment.

I don’t know what the City of Kimberley’s Mayor and Council are trying to fix when it comes to Kimberley’s economy. Schools are full and portables are being brought in. Houses are being built all over the community. Houses are worth more now than when Cominco was here (1980s and 1990s).

Some people on our council were not around when our quaint town of Kimberley was going through its growing pains of Cominco eventually closing. Hence the reason why Kimberley became “The Bavarian City of the Rockies.” Tourism was Kimberley’s main focus to keep our town from dying. The hard work and dedication from previous Mayors and Councilors and everyone else involved making Kimberley a four season’s destination has paid off. Kimberley is thriving more than ever. People are moving here because of Kimberley’s quality of life not its industry. We are a bedroom community and there is nothing wrong with that!

Back to my point on industry, I am for industry in Kimberley but it needs to fit into Kimberley’s lifestyle and in the appropriate already designated industrial sites. The Marysville Benchlands is not that site. Industry does not need a view!!! If the City of Kimberley wants industry here so bad, why can’t they direct any potential buyers for light industry to other properties that have been sitting stagnant for years? Why does the City have to sell them the property? Why the Marysville Benchlands?

Katherine Smith


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