Osgoode Coun. Doug Thompson wants Rogers to move its proposed telecommunications tower farther away from Greely homes.
Coun. Doug Thompson wants to put Rogers' proposal for a cell tower on Sale Barn Road on hold as he works with the company to try and get the antenna moved farther down the road to a city-owned vacant piece of land at 6326 Bank St., just south of where Sale Barn Road meets Bank.
City staff agreed with a request from Rogers Communications to build a new antenna at 1536 Sale Barn Rd. that would stand approximately 70 metres tall northwest of the Bank Street intersection.
But the Osgoode councillor wants to put that proposal on hold as he works with Rogers to try and get the antenna moved farther down the road to a city-owned vacant piece of land at 6326 Bank St., just south of where Sale Barn Road meets Bank.
Thompson said his main issue is the very minimal notification and consultation Rogers undertook before it received approval for the tower.
“They did go through the procedure but in my opinion they didn’t fulfill to the letter of the law what they should have done,” Thompson said. “In my opinion, they should have let the rest of the subdivision know.”
There is a new subdivision nearby, but the federal public notification rules only required the company to inform residents within a certain area that included a handful of the homes on the outskirts of the residential development – but not their neighbours.
According to Thompson’s assistant, Nick Randall, 10 property owners fell within the prescribed 210-metre radius and were notified by letter in October.
Four of them showed up at the public consultation on Nov. 7, mostly with health concerns.
The city can’t say no to a communication tower – that’s up to Industry Canada. But the city’s opinion on the location is considered by the federal department.
“Industry Canada does make the final decision, but they do look to the city for advice before making the final decision,” Thompson said.
Thompson hopes to make his plan happen by having city staff revoke concurrence for the Sale Barn Road location and delay for a month as the councillor tries to convince Rogers to adopt the new location.
“I want another month to try and see if I can negotiate a change and if not, I am going to ask council to bring the hammer down,” Thompson said. “If I can’t find a resolution, maybe we should just pull the (city’s) concurrence, which might then bring Rogers to the table to say they’ll give a look at the new location.”
Patricia Law, a spokeswoman for Rogers Canada, said the company fulfilled its public consultation obligations under municipal and federal policy.
“We’re surprised Coun. Thompson has decided to bring forth his proposal at this point as he had the opportunity to voice his concerns during the consultation process,” Law said in an email.
Thompson is proposing that Rogers lease the Bank Street land from the city. It would also require Rogers to undertake construction to make an unopened road allowance passable in order to access the site.
Last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association established a new protocol that has wireless companies for the first time agreeing to notify municipalities of all structures being installed before they’re built, plus public consultation for towers under 15 metres in height. The latter was an issue as some companies would build a tower just under 15 m and, because of the previous regulations, wouldn't have to notify the public.
“The purpose of the protocol is to ensure there is notification and meaningful local consultation on the location and visual esthetics of antenna systems before they're installed and that Canadians continue to have access to the wireless services they need to support their businesses and stay connected with their families,” FCM president Karen Leibovici stated in a press release.
Bruce Brayman, president of the Greely Community Association, has said the association won’t take a stand on the issue because the tower could benefit as many people as it annoys.
“We have a hard time politically because the tower may be good for half of Greely,” Brayman said. Having a cell tower so close to the village could likely strengthen wireless signals for residents.
He admitted the towers can be more of an eyesore in the country because they are not hidden between buildings, he said.
With files from Emma Jackson