CREST antenna at Oak Bay Beach hotel could improve service: Oak Bay Fire Dept.

Controversial emergency radio service provider looks to build five repeater stations around Capital Region

Lieut. Darren Hughes with Oak Bay Fire Department is happy the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel will host a new repeater tower to improve the reception for the region’s emergency radio service

Lieut. Darren Hughes with Oak Bay Fire Department is happy the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel will host a new repeater tower to improve the reception for the region’s emergency radio service

When Oak Bay firefighters stand on Beach Drive and try to communicate with colleagues just 90 metres below the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on Satellite Drive they can’t do so using a multi-milion dollar regional radio system. Instead they use walkie talkies.

“It’s so crazy with the system that you can be on the fourth floor of a building and looking at the engine and they can’t hear us,” Fire Chief Gerry Adam said.

Although Adam said the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications radio system works 99 per cent of the time for fire department platoons when out in the field, but it doesn’t transmit well through concrete and steel buildings. Firefighters switch to hand-held two-way radio systems, essentially walkie-talkies, when they have to go into buildings.

CREST is the company contracted by the Capital Regional District to provide communication services to police, fire, RCMP, and B.C. Transit in the region. General manager Gord Horth admits there have been challenges in providing error-free transmissions throughout the region, but upgrades such as a proposed repeater station on top of the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel will help.

“Radio waves don’t readily go through buildings nor mountains or hills,” Horth said.

The company is hoping to install five repeater stations around the region this year – in Colwood, Saanich, East Sooke, Oak Bay and on Salt Spring Island. The stations will boost signals for emergency personnel in the field back to transmitter sites.

The antenna at the hotel would be visible about 2.5 to 3.5 metres above the building, on the southeast end of the roof. The station’s computer equipment would be housed in a separate 48 square foot room.

Hotel owner Kevin Walker has applied for a municipal variance to utilize the attic space. A public hearing is required as part of the process. CREST will rent the space from the hotel.

The repeater stations are expected to cost between $100,000 and $150,000 each.

Walker said he is accommodating the station because “it seems the right thing to improve coverage for our hotel and for the entire area.”

Victoria police are less enthusiastic. Officers there often carry hand-held radios or cellphones because of concerns over CREST call failures over the past eight years.

Spokesperson Sgt. Grant Hamilton said he didn’t believe adding more towers would remedy the problem.

But Oak Bay’s fire chief is pleased to hear a new Beach Drive station may go ahead.

“Any enhancement is a benefit – it can only get better,” Adam said.

Just Posted

Police are looking for witnesses and video footage after a crash on June 18. (Photo courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP looking for videos related to Corvette crash

Driver believed to have fled the scene of View Royal crash

The Pat Bay Highway was closed for several hours Monday morning after a drug-impaired driver crashed into two hydro poles. (Black Press Media file photo)
UPDATE: Pat Bay closure caused by drug-impaired driver

Man struck two hydro poles, closing a section of the Pat Bay Monday morning

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Greater Victoria with unusually high temperatures expected Monday and this coming weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria’s first week of summer will be a scorcher

Special weather statement issued Monday by Environment Canada

Central Saanich has rejected plans for a pilot project that would allow food trucks in Centennial Park. (Black Press Media file photo)
Central Saanich puts brakes on food truck pilot project

Coun. Carl Jensen questions Central Saanich’s consistency

A rendering shows what the Doral Forest Park development would look like from the southwest. (Rendering via D’AMBROSIO Architecture & Urbanism)
Beaver Lake area project passes next hurdle in Saanich

Council approval for 242-unit parks edge development hinges on meeting of conditions

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

By the end of life, the average North American has eaten the weight of a family sedan in sugar. (
FITNESS: Living the sweet life without too much sugar

Simple choices can have a major impact on your health

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read