QIFD has been using its new temporary repeater system for over 2 months now and what a difference it has made.
For many years, QIFD struggled with poor radio coverage while performing emergency services on Quadra. Many a time, when in the shadow of certain topographic obstruction, the portable radio and pager performance was challenged making coordinating field activities difficult. Back in 2013, our concerns were raised with North Island 911 Corp who own and maintain our repeater system. North Island Communications was then contracted to create a suitable communications solution. Through radio frequency predictive propagation software, a potential site was proposed at the crest of Heriot Ridge, very close to the Heriot Ridge trail. Although from an RF engineering perspective, this location was perfect, it represented a significant infringement on the aesthetic values of the island. Through a public meeting process, several concerns were raised and the proposed site was deemed unsuitable.
With help from members of the Quadra Outdoor Club and Quadra Trails Committee as well as other concerned citizens, a new alternate site was scouted and proposed. Action items included conducting a biological survey to identify endangered plant species, design the system for the new location topography, insure RF propagation was suitable, conduct a new site Survey and re-apply to Land and Forests for location approval. The biologist survey was conducted and identified one threatened plant species. The plant location was marked and protective measures were taken to prevent harm. The new radio site location was well away from Heriot Ridge hiking trail and below any viewpoint sightlines. In fact, unless you knew where to look, it would be virtually invisible. On paper, the RF propagation looked satisfactory and all involved parties agreed to proceed with next steps.
Under the application process, a temporary test and evaluation system is eligible for installation to prove out strengths and weaknesses of the proposed system. It was decided to install a self-contained test system running on solar panels to charge batteries. The radio equipment operates in the VHF frequency band at a relatively low power. The equipment yurt would be green and the antennae tower maintains a very low profile. There would be no roads, trails or power lines as everything was designed to be completely self-contained and minimize impact. The system was pre-built in Campbell River and then helicopter slung into position.
Success so far! The radio tests we have conducted have been phenomenal representing a quantum leap in improving our communications system performance. Virtually all regions within the QIFD fire protection district now have both portable radio and pager coverage. North Island 911.com has provided an excellent communications system solution helping QIFD insure the safety of our volunteer members during emergency calls. RCMP and BC Ambulance will also benefit from this location when they add their communications equipment post final approvals. We are now in the reapplication phase and as part of due process, a public input meeting is required to address any concerns Quadra residents may have and this will be well advertised in advance.
Prior to the official general public meeting, we are conducting an informal information session to answer any questions and pre-addresses any issues. This will be held at the QCC - Room 3, 7:00 PM, Wednesday, April 5th. Please enter via the South doors.
If you have any immediate questions or concerns regarding the final development of this repeater site, please contact Mike Gall at 285-2491 or by email email@example.com.