The mock Fort Victoria bell tower (left), at the downtown corner of Fort and Langley, conceals a buzzing hive of cellular transmission equipment. The symbolism is appropriate, because this town’s always been obsessed with communication – between 1858 and 1864 ten newspapers sprang up here – to compensate for the isolations of island life.
Today Victoria positively bristles with communications gear. And we're about to get more: in February the city approved MCK Advance Technologies’ plans to mount 24 Wi-Fi transmitters, providing high-speed internet access practically everywhere in town. Is this a good thing? Sure, there have been stories that “electronic smog” causes suicides and brain tumors, but the joys of surfing for porn while driving on the Pat Bay highway clearly outweigh the risks. Besides, cellphone towers sometimes have practical environmental benefits: Saanich's Mount Douglas Park is so vast because rent from the transmitters on its peak helped the municipality buy surrounding properties to add to the greenspace.
Regardless of how you feel about increasing volumes of electomagnetic radiation shimmering through our atmosphere, a great resource is geckobeach.com, a website created by a local marine scientist. It has maps showing all the (often-secret) locations of cellphone towers in Victoria, so you’ll know where to pick up a signal – or avoid renting or buying a home.