Rogers Beck Park cell tower entente reached
April 25th, 2012
Rogers Beck Park cell tower ‘entente’ reached
Plan is to modify lampposts to use as cell towers
By Ian Howarth
In what a Rogers official described as a Canadian first, the originally proposed 22.5-metre cell tower for Beck Park in Pointe Claire has now morphed into three, 15-metre towers incorporated into three of the park’s four existing lampposts.
The change comes as a result of months of consultation with a group of five citizens — part of what Rogers called a “working group” — loosely representing the Citizens for Dave Beck Park who have opposed the cell tower installation since it became public knowledge in October 2010. The working group, composed of five Pointe Claire residents, Rogers representatives and a Rogers-appointed mediator, have met eight times since October 2011.
Susan Weaver, who was instrumental in getting residents in the Beck Park area to mobilize against Rogers by going door to door, circulating a petition and taking part in the working group as an observer, said the entente was the best possible outcome given the circumstances. “It would be better if there were no tower there (in Beck Park),” said Weaver, who would have had a cell tower overlooking her backyard had Rogers gone ahead with its original plan. “But because of where Rogers and the citizens stood, this is an acceptable solution. They (Rogers) were always going to win.” Weaver added that Rogers wanted to use nearby Delmar Avenue street lamps for their cell towers. “Setting them instead back from the street was a better option. The homes on Delmar would have been exposed 24/7,” said Weaver. “This is better, though not ideal since there are children who play in the park.”
The Beck Park cell tower/lamposts option may be become moot if a cell tower to be installed in an industrial park area of Sources Road and Reverchon Avenue south of Hymus Blvd. functions with adequate efficiency. Notice of Rogers’ intentions went out to about 200 Pointe Claire citizens on April 5 who had signed up to receive information at a public meetng held at the Holiday Inn Pointe Claire last September. The fact that Rogers was in direct consultations with a citizens group is a precedent setting procedure. Installation of cell towers is under the purvey of the federal government – specifically Industry Canada – and the cell tower providers. Municipalties (in this case Pointe Claire) are consulted but are relegated to making suggestions for sitings of cell towers. “We had great working group dynamics,” said Rogers spokesperson Stephanie Jarrold. “It’s important for citizens to voice their concerns and it’s also important we work with them.” Jarrold was not specific on Rogers’s timeline for either Pointe Claire installation.
Mechanical engineer Denis Brunelle, who was one of five citizens providing input to the Rogers working group, described himself as “less than jubilant but nevertheless satisfied” with the Beck Park agreement. However, he believes that Rogers will ultimately look to the Beck Park site even if the Sources and Reverchon location pans out. “Cell tower providers are running out of location options,” Brunelle explained. “If you look at the backyard cell tower in Kirkland,” he said, referring to the installation of a 15-metre cell tower in a residential area last week, “this is the direction communications companies are headed.” Brunelle did think that the consultation undertaken by Rogers represented a precedent. “Rogers cares about their image,” he said. “There’s something to be said about being organized. Rogers saw that the best thing to do was to talk to us.”
The Rogers file is now back at Pointe Claire being studied by the city’s technical staff, before being forwarded to the Planning Advisory Committee then to council — where the process began originally in January 2010. “The city is under no particular time frame,” said Mayor Bill McMurchie. “It will go through proper channels as any other application would.” He hastened to add that the city “reserves the right to approve or disapprove any application that is on city property.” McMurchie also acknowledged the importance of the role local citizens played in the consultation process but also that council suggested to Rogers that it expand its initial consultation parameters. Four Pointe Claire city councillors and the mayor are headed to a June Canadian Federation of Muncipalities congress in Saskatoon. “It wouldn’t surprise me if cell tower installation and Industry Canada were on the agenda,” said McMurchie. “It’s a cross-Canada problem.”
Suburban, Ian Howarth, Rogers, Beck Park, Pointe Claire