Federal Property History

 

3884 192nd Street

Surrey, BC

 

Prior to the laying of undersea cable serving the telecommunications needs of Canada with Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, wireless systems were established in the late 1940s and 1950s by the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. Two sites were established on the west coast of British Columbia, a receiving site in Ladner, and a transmitting site in Surrey at 3884 192nd Street.

 

Both sites established large antenna arrays, as required by the frequencies necessary to ensure reliable radio links across the Pacific Ocean. The transmitting site was built on a 300-acre tract of land with numerous rhombic antennas and supporting poles and towers. A 10,000 square foot brick building was constructed in the centre of the cleared property, approximately 200 acres. In addition to the offices and workshops, it housed the transmitters that fed the antenna arrays. CBC personnel also worked at the building monitoring radio broadcasting for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

 

Once the Pacific Ocean undersea cable was operational in the 1960s, the facility became redundant. An arrangement involving a land swap with property in Newfoundland resulted in the then Federal Department of Communications taking over the property from COTC and in the early 1970s establishing a radio monitoring site as part of its international obligations under the International Telecommunications Union. The COTC antenna systems were dismantled and replaced by radio monitoring arrays. A radio direction finding system was established on the cleared land to the north.

 

Farming operations in the 70s consisted primarily of haying, but in the 1980s, contract agreements were made with Heppell Bros farms to allow farming on almost 200 acres of available land. Potatoes were the primary crop for some years, but in time, mixed vegetables were also harvested. Since that time the agricultural land has been improved and is now an excellent example of how productive the soil has become.

 

In the 1980s, the monitoring activity at the Cloverdale Monitoring Station took on the function of a full District Office. In addition to the radio monitoring that was conducted in two shifts, the office also undertook radio station licensing, radio station inspections, radio interference investigations, and radio operator certifications. A two-bay garage was constructed to accommodate additional vehicles.

 

In 1995, the regulatory function for radio spectrum management under Communications Canada became part of Industry Canada and a couple of years later the Cloverdale District Office functions were consolidated with the Lower Mainland Office in North Surrey. The site continued to operate as part of a remote monitoring network. The building was repurposed to function in support of Emergency Planning Canada as an exercise and training facility.

 

In 2005, it was decided that the building was unsuitable for Emergency Planning Canada, and as it was declared unsafe due to contaminants it was razed. The fencing which surrounded the building and antennas continues to stand.

 

In 2015 Industry Canada became the Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development. Remote operations on the property continued until 2018 when ISED declared it surplus to their needs and notified Public Works and Government Services Canada. Since then, Billy Ng with PWGSC has been the contact person for the disposal process that is currently underway. It is understood that before any sale takes place, governments at all three levels are provided the opportunity to indicate their interest in its use.

 

In the interim, ISED personnel continue to take care of the property. They have undertaken several actions, such as placing concrete blocks along 196 Street to discourage motorized vehicles, cutting trees to discourage trail riding, and rousting homeless camps in the forest. ISED can be contacted concerning property issues at spectrumsurrey-surreyspectre@ised-isde.gc.ca

 

Nigel Bell

February 2021, revised October 18, 2021.

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