New local rules for internet and other towers

·3 min read

Southgate has passed a policy requiring public consultation on internet and other towers because of concerns about some being placed too close to property lines.

The “guidance document” calls for an entrance with an emergency number in case there’s an accident. Its stated goal is to work with proponents to support installation of communication towers.

The township had Industry Canada review its policy and document, which is put in place to address concerns in the area, and includes the Industry Canada CPC standards.

Township planner Clint Stredwick said that it shouldn’t add to the “red tape.”

“Now we have a local policy that complies with CPC but is a little more tailored to Southgate,” he said.

The staff report said that of those in the industry who received advance copies for comment, one internet service provider had no concerns as long as there were no added delays. Another had no comment and a third provider was said to have threatened legal action if the policy were passed.

Hearing that, Coun. Barbara Dobreen said she expected there could be some negative comments made in public. But she said her view is that “we’re not over-stepping our reach – we’re just trying to get the basics followed.”

The Southgate document complies with the Industry Canada Radio communications and broadcasting antenna systems document (CPC-2-0-03).

One of the sections taken from Industry Canada outlines steps that need to be taken to partner with existing towers before building a new one.

As far as municipal models for its document, staff said it is close to one used by Tiny Township.

Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne asked who had the hammer to enforce the standards – perhaps Industry Canada or township bylaw officers.

Mr. Stredwick replied, “it’s going to land on my lap.” But it’s worth the township having its own regulation he said because “no one has the Township of Southgate’s interests in mind better than the Township of Southgate.”

The township has no authority to regulate telecommunications facilities, the document says, but it requires consultation and addresses local land use concerns.

The township policy includes giving notice to the public of planned towers, with a public meeting and comment period.

Property line setbacks would be at least the height of the tower or have the signed approval of the adjacent landowner.

The setback from roads and buildings that is encouraged is the tower height plus 10 metres. Engineered drawings of towers and foundation are required. Lighting is prohibited unless required by Transport Canada and should be “dark sky” friendly.

The application is to have a fee of $1,200, and the proponent must make a deputation to council with the proposal at an open house at a regular meeting. Township will provide notice to landowners within a radius of 120 metres, and the proposed site will be signed.

The proponent is also required to present at a council meeting following the open house, at which township staff will present a report.

The township will then advise the proponent and Industry Canada of whether the consultation process has been completed in accord with the policy, and whether the entrance permit and 911 emergency number have been obtained.

Again, the policy notes, that if the township says its policy has not been followed, the decision still rests with Industry Canada on whether to permit the installation.

Melancthon Township revised its telecommunications tower policy in 2020 and again in 2021.

It addresses similar issues and also includes exemptions for co-location, roof-top or silo installations and towers under 30 metres that aren’t in a settlement area and provide service speeds of 50/10 without data caps or limits where there is a lack of service.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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