By Pat Grubb
Offer enough good food, drinks, music and communal good will, and people will open up their wallets and give to a good cause. According to Jennifer Urquhart, treasurer of the Cross-Border Coalition to Stop the Towers, that’s exactly what people did on March 5 at a fundraiser held at Kiniski’s Reef Tavern on Gulf Road.
Over 200 people showed up to celebrate the defeat of the radio tower farm proposed for Point Roberts. As tavern own Nick Kiniski remarked, “It feels like old times at the Reef again.” The event featured music by The Neon Stars, a six-piece Vancouver band that served up vintage honky-tonk and swinging country music, and had the dance floor hopping all night. The evening began with singer/songwriter KK and comedy by Lucy Williams.
Speaking a few days later at a Point Roberts Taxpayers Association meeting, Urquhart said the event was a success. “We’re confident that we’ll be able to pay our bills. We will be disbanding the coalition but we’ll be able to get back together for another cause.” Reporting later, Urquhart said the event raised $13,000 which, combined with additional donations that had come in, was sufficient to pay the remaining legal bills as well as other final expenses.
The coalition was formed in 2013 to stop plans to build an array of five 150-foot AM radio transmission towers at the corner of Tyee Drive and McKenzie Way. Opposing the conditional use permit at the county level and subsequent appeals, the coalition racked up almost $250,000 in legal bills. Donations and a series of fundraisers paid most of the bills, but the coalition still needed “about $14,000 to pay our final obligations,” Urquhart said. Most of the outstanding debt was owed to lawyers but the coalition will also need an accountant to prepare reports for the Internal Revenue Service due to the high level of donations received in later tax periods. A coalition board meeting held Friday, March 11 confirmed that the event raised enough money to retire the legal debt.
The tower project had been spearheaded by BBC Broadcasting Inc., a Canadian company that currently broadcasts out of facilities in Ferndale. The towers were broadcasting content provided by Sher-E-Punjab and aimed at the large Asian radio market in the lower mainland of B.C. Sher-E-Punjab and two other companies had been ordered in October 2015 to cease broadcasting by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for violating the Canadian Broadcasting Act. The company is currently pursuing a license for a 690 AM radio frequency.
The evening’s fundraising was accomplished through donations at the door, raffle tickets and a silent auction of donated goods. The highlight of the prizes was a 55-inch widescreen TV which was won by Carl Cachia from Vancouver. Winner of the Jelly Bean Guess was Julie Berks of Tsawwassen while the 50/50 draw was won by Kevin Guichon.