By Heather Cameron
For Westwind Weekly News
Approval was given to an application for municipal concurrence of a Rogers telecommunications facility and supporting equipment at the Municipal Planning Meeting that took place in the Raymond Town Council Chambers on Jan. 13. If approved by the province, the ground level, 50 meter self-support telecommunications facility and supporting equipment will be built on the east side of Victoria Park with up to 35 meters available for other carriers to add telecommunication facilities.
“Industry Canada requires that as part of the application process, applicants must consult with municipalities and seek their concurrence for the erection of such towers including regards to the tower type and location,” shared Ethan Gorner, director of planning and development for the Town of Raymond. “This bylaw sets forth the process whereby the Town may consider the concurrence, the powers of which have been delegated to the planning commission. Industry Canada has placed a large requirement that every effort be made to work with municipalities to find the best suitable site within a municipality for these types of facilities.”
Gorner went on to explain that the meeting was not to determine the approval of the tower, as that decision will be left in the hands of Industry Canada. The meeting, Gorner said, is part of the process that Rogers needs to go through before they could submit the application to the proper decision-makers.
“The purpose of this public hearing was to determine whether or not the Town would provide Rogers with our “concurrence” or “approval” to have the tower at this location,” added Pam Searcy, an executive assistant with the Town.
“It is my opinion that once a decision is made by the governing body of which I am a part, in this instance the Municipal Planning Commission, I support that decision as the one which best addresses the needs of the majority of the residents,” Counc. Cathy Needham said. “Will that decision make everyone happy, no, but we honestly could rarely make a decision that would make everyone happy.”
Members of the public were given notice of this hearing and invited to express their interest in presenting their opinions but only Doug and Nancy Holt sent in a letter expressing concerns about the location and the attractiveness of the facility. Five local residents were in attendance to listen to the discussion.
Following the review of the application, Bart Carswell, of Cavalier Land Ltd, who also served as a Rogers’ representative, proceeded to share a presentation outlining the details of the Rogers telecommunications facility and those in attendance then had their opportunity to offer responses.
The Town Transfer Station lot in the northeast section of town and the old Shaw Cable Tower lot in the southeast corner of town had also been considered, but ultimately rejected. The previous proposal and the informational open house held on June 27, 2014 led to rejection of the proposal due to aesthetic concerns, potential land use conflict, and a potentially negative impact on the environment was also mentioned, albeit briefly.
Other resident concerns focused on the levels of radiation emitted from the telecommunications tower, its proximity to both the hospital and the flight path of STARS Air Ambulance, the attractiveness of the tower, and if Rogers had research to support their location decision.
Carswell responded by saying that the facility emitted one percent of the allowable levels within safety regulations and that site was ideal for meeting the greatest technological need.
“We are hopeful that the communications facility won’t create a negative impact on neighboring properties,” Carswell said. “The site is less optimal than the center of town, but close enough to provide quality.”
Ultimately, Mayor Bohne made the motion to approve the concurrence and the Town Council voted in favour of the agreement 3 to 2 with Councillors Robinson, Needham, and Depew being in favor of it while Councillors Ralph and Holt were against it. Counc. Barry Wolsey was out of town.
The representatives from Rogers will now implement the information into their proposal for the province.
“We need a company like Rogers to provide quality service for our community,” Mayor Bohne concluded.