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Welcome to the future Community Radio station for Gabriola

The launch of chly fm in Nanaimo, has increased the interest for an FM broadcasting facility on Gabriola Island. A stand alone facility on Gabriola, owned by the community, operated as a co-operative is desirable from a safety, cultural and economic perspective. This website addresses the interest from the community of Gabriola for a new FM broadcast undertaking.

Coverage Area

Coverage objectives stated are, "to establish an ongoing community radio station that can broadcast during an extended period of declared emergency to the region under the authority of the Gabriola Provincial Emergency Coordinator and additionally Cedar, Yellowpoint and Nanaimo. This region would include the Islands in the immediate vicinity of - Valdes, Gabriola, Mudge, Link, DeCourcey, Pylades, Ruxton, Tugboat and the communities of Cedar, Yellowpoint and Nanaimo."

Tx locations and Studio sites briefing (November 2003)

Tx/studio options

The first thing you notice about Gabriola Island is the rolling hills and tall trees. This is the challenge with broadcasting here. Intervening topography inhibits the signal from reaching the homes mostly located along the shorelines of this island. Tall trees require very tall towers to reach over existing heights and as trees grow the eventual height.

Police, Fire and Ambulance are all considering a move in tx locations. Existing sites do not service the entire island due to intervening topography. Whalebone and Silva Bay are two populated areas known to have poor radio reception from existing tx sites. Dead spots are becoming more then a nuisance. They are interested in moving or adding additional capacity to deal with the problem.

TX location requirements - We would like to reach the entire island with one tx. The tx should have good access and be available to park a van at for use as a remote studio. Due to the nature of our funding (none) I was thinking we could park the van at the site as a studio for 2-3 years in order to raise money to pay for a proper studio. This would train the volunteers on doing remotes, which we would like. Extended use of a remote broadcast would prepare the volunteers for broadcasting during an emergency.
We could rebroadcast a signal to the probable dead spots at Whalebone and Silva Bay with a small tx fed by the cable signal using a private house as a tx base. This is seen as problematic.

The tx short list

Telus site - Highest existing tower on island currently servicing their cellular traffic. Talked to Don Kennett they will want money (big money and site must be serviced by Telus) if they let us on at all. Their offer of free rent vanished as fast as you can say "customer service". Held a conference call with Don, Fire Chief Jackson and myself Oct 6th, 2003. He did say something about getting the landlord ( Mr Coats) to allow them to subdivide. They can't, with out his permission. Access to site is controlled by landlord, his property surrounds the site. He owns the only road to it.
Benefits include height, professional servicing from Telus.
Negatives include poorer access, professional servicing from Telus.

Coats Road site - Tower existing. owned by Zulu of Cercomm Electronics. Fire and 911 use this site. His original offer still stands (nothing in writing yet) for free rent, we pay for power and leasehold improvements. Located near a house, access is by their driveway. Agreements are in place to share driveway.
Benefits - cheap, Zulu is nice to deal with, close to road for access.
Negatives - site is lower and known not to reach the entire island.

Mt Benson - Tower existing. owned by Zulu of Cercomm Electronics. This off island site is located behind Nanaimo and offers a panoramic view of Gabriola. His original offer still stands (nothing in writing yet) for free rent we pay for power and leasehold improvements. Located on the top of Mt Benson impossible to reach in event of an emergency, no way to park a van there. Good view of island. Fire chief has agreed to support this location if it gives complete coverage of the island.
Benefits - cheap, Zulu is nice to deal with, commanding view of Gabriola and area
Negatives - no access during emergency. Too high, signal may interfere with Vancouver.

Chernoff Drive - No tower existing. Serviced by a new road this location features the highest point on the island 160m. Power, cable, telephone are all existing. Water may be a problem, but its a problem on the whole island anyway. Area has some timbre standing at ~120 feet. A property owner at the end of Chernoff Drive has been contacted and will be approached for an agreement. Site pictures available.
Benefits - high area, remote but serviced.
Negatives - no tower, building a wood frame timbre, fire watch tower, drew interest a lot of interest, if this site works we could build to suit fire, police, ambulance and ourselves.

Larrivee site (935 Clarendon Road) - No tower. Located at the top of the hill in Leboeuf Bay at the north end of the island. Owner is supportive of a radio facility at her location. Fire chief regularly calls her to see if she sees any smoke on the island. Power, cable, telephone are all existing. Serviced area with passable driveway. Area has standing timbre at ~ 90 feet
Benefits - good view from one end of the island
Negatives - no tower, area of private homes.

Fire Hall #1 (760 North Road) - Tower existing. Had a nice climb up today the view shows the Telus Tower (between the trees 10 feet down from the top) to the south east and Mt Benson to the west. No way to see Chernoff Drive as the tree tops do look all the same. Suitable for a microwave transmission site I thought we may want to run the STL on land lines from the Artworks to the Fire Hall then microwave to the tx site.

Comments from the national listserve have come in on this issue. Station managers state:

"Set up the Tx site so landlord can't kick you out, but you can leave. It is a "leasers" market ever since the dot com bubble burst. Be patient, persistant and know what you need, what you must not do without, and what you are prepared to budge/let go of to get an arrangement. You want active support from the tower owners - maintenance, etc." - Chad Saunders, CJSW Station Manager

"Working with any of the big guys sucks - they're "damn bastards!" landlords. I'd take the better antenna and give it a good ol' install so there will be few/none emergencies. Then it's just about regular checks on the good travel days. I remember fondly when we owned our own tower. Control, no fees, flexibility for future growth needs. Be careful what you get the station into. Set things up now to be lowest maintenance, clearest title, longest lifespan. Err on the side of caution." - Tristis Ward, CHSR Station Manager

Studio sites

The location of the studio should involve informed discussion by various segments of the community. This is a major undertaking for this island and will impact on the community. Having said that Kathy, Dick and I discussed the options that seem reasonable to start with and determined the following:

Commercial property is in low supply on Gabriola. Market rates range from $.80 to 1.00 per square foot per month. New construction is ongoing and the outlook suggests something will be available if we need it.

FolkLife Village Mall - 575 North Road. The owner is planning an expansion soon. This would be the most expensive, also the most desirable because of centrality, accessibility, visibility, access to good coffee close by, walking to ferry, good parking, Library located here. The Artworks is located at the mall and a sublet could be a possibility, however, it would be at market rate and lease hold improvement would be ours to bear. The highest I could go in the ArtWorks very near the roof did not give any view of any tx towers or Mt Benson. The trees surrounding the mall roof are at least 30 - 50 feet higher.

Two other malls exist across North Road from the Folklife Village. I know both owners they are nice and would be competitive on price if they have anything available when we start looking, right now they don't. A few sparse commercial buildings exist in the "downtown" area. The pet feed store just sold (winter 2003) for $388,000, 4,500 sq. ft. store, suite, office space, 147 x 145 foot lot that works out to $86 bucks per square foot. The gas station was just purchased by the Nanaimo Co-op and the 1,500 square feet garage area is available, they will build to suit. Wine making shop, lumber yard, medical clinic, deli, fish monger, post office all in the two block area. The ferry to Nanaimo is a comfortable 12 minute walk from here.

Local zoning permits us at any location (except public park or ecological reserves) we are thinking we could build or move into a house located near by the Folk Life Village i.e. Lockinvar, The Museum (South Road and Lockinvar), however as Kathy points out, the museum is having trouble keeping and getting volunteers as it is located away from the village centre. It seems people volunteer to obtain some social contact, so we do not want to be far from the action, such as "the action" is on an island of 3,000 people.

We have a timbre framing school on the island. They are always looking for school projects and we could, with donated timbre, build a studio, using volunteer labour for ~ $50 per square foot. Our studio options for the future include:

1. Rented trailer on rented land behind the fire hall - least desirable, but good short term solution, cost effective.

2. Custom built timbre frame studio and offices on land we own near the village centre - expensive, but very suitable for volunteers.

3. We build timbre frame studio on rented residential land near village centre - do able but the issue of investing all the resources into something we can't sell or use as a mortgage seems not desirable. Having said that, a studio that you can't sell or mortgage makes sense from a stability argument. I guess down the road we could buy the lot on a lease to own thing.

4. Rent commercial space near village centre.

5. Rent residential suit near village centre. Basement radio?

6. Converted Volkswagen or Toyota van at tx site. cheap but not very stable, theft issues, dampness in winter, no CD library space.


Ken Zakreski, developer
proposed ciuf-fm, Gabriola Co-op Radio
#9 - 575 North Road, Gabriola Island, BC, V0R 1X0
Ph: 250-247-9891, Fax: 250-247-9852



last updated: February 4th, 2009

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