Upgrades To Salt Spring Island’s Emergency Communications System Proposed for Site in Ganges

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Victoria – The Royal Canadian Salt Spring Legion Branch has given approval to move forward with the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications Inc. (CREST) on a partnership project that would see an upgrade to existing public safety communications services for Salt Spring Island. An agreement in principle allows CREST to commence a consultation process with the community.

A public safety initiative, this project would see the installation of a communications mono-pole at the Royal Canadian Salt Spring Legion Branch, and is an integral part of an extensive $24.5-million technology renewal project that is rolling out across the Capital Region with 20 new installation sites.  The “next generation” technology replaces the existing 15-year-old emergency technology that currently serves more than 50 emergency response and public service agencies within the Capital Region. The new radio system is based on digital radio technology known as Project 25 (P25) and is considered the preferred technology for emergency responders across North America.

President Chris Simmonds noted, “The Legion is a service club and we have a history of working with emergency response groups like Salt Spring Island Emergency Program. CREST’s telecommunications systems support the Island’s emergency services program, and this system upgrade will improve public and emergency responder safety. At our meeting on April 8th the membership gave unanimous approval to endorse this partnership with CREST.”

The new Ganges location would improve communications for first responders (police fire, and ambulance) in an area where they have experienced challenges accessing reliable coverage. Sergeant Ryan Netzer, Commanding Officer I/C, of the RCMP Salt Spring Detachment, and Fire Chief Arjuna George of the SSI Fire Rescue welcome the technology upgrades:

“CREST’s new technology plan is an important step forward for all emergency responders and for our citizens,” said Sergeant Netzer. “The new communications mono-pole will strengthen our effectiveness and our ability to respond optimally to ensure the safety of the public.”

Fire Chief Arjuna George of the SSI Fire Rescue agrees. “The system upgrade is expected to provide clearer audio with less interference, noise suppression and increased capacity. Ultimately, we will have improved coverage and security for the benefit of our citizens.  The mono-pole installation at the Legion is essential for the effectiveness of our operations and emergency services on Salt Spring.”

To move forward, approvals are required by Islands Trust. CREST will be hosting an Open House information session over the coming months in Ganges and residents will be notified well in advance and invited to attend.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is a communications mono-pole?

A communications mono-pole is a critical piece of telecommunications infrastructure that supports a dedicated communications system for more than 50 emergency responders and public service organizations across the Capital Region. Design for the Ganges location is currently underway. It will be a tall single pole approximately 1 metre in width set in a concrete pad and bolted into the ground. The necessary height of the pole has not yet been defined. The total footprint of the installation is approximately 4.6 square metres. At the time of the Open House, the design will be complete and ready to share with residents.

Why are you proposing to install a communications mono-pole in Ganges?

Currently, there are gaps in emergency coverage on Salt Spring Island that challenge emergency responders and public service agencies negatively impacting their ability to respond in some situations.  The mono-pole will address this issue and in turn strengthen public and responder safety. Emergency responders – fire, police and ambulance – are fully supportive of having this mono—pole installed as it will enable them to better serve and protect residents throughout Salt Spring Island.

Is there a public health risk with this mono-pole?

Health Canada has a guideline known as Safety Code 6 which recommends limits for safe human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy — the kind of energy given off by various electronic devices such as cell phones and Wi-Fi, as well as broadcasting and cell phone towers. The limits established in Safety Code 6 incorporate large safety margins to provide a significant level of protection for all Canadians, including those working near RF sources.

The mono-pole is well within the Safety Code 6 guidelines. Emissions are less than broadcasting towers and cell phone towers. Health Canada scientists monitor the scientific literature on this issue on an ongoing basis. Safety Code 6 is reviewed on a regular basis to verify that the guideline provides protection against all known potentially harmful health effects. This is one of 20 new installations throughout the Capital Region.

Will the mono-pole affect other communications services (i.e. cell phone or TV services)?

No.

How much is this going to cost residents of Salt Spring Island?

This technology upgrade is part of a regional public safety operation managed by CREST. Costs are borne by all jurisdictions in the CRD.

 

About CREST

CREST provides a shared public safety radio system that allows emergency service responders from different agencies to talk directly to one another in real-time. Having the CREST system improves emergency coordination and response, and public safety.