Whitewater Region – Cell and internet service will improve in Whitewater Region if the six towers under discussion are erected.
Whitewater Internet has requested, and received approval, for site plan control at three locations – properties on Grants Settlement Road, Bromley Line and McLaughlin Road, as well as at the township landfill site and on the Cobden water tower. Rogers Communications Inc. also received site plan control approval for the erection of a tower on Zion Line.
The requests for approval were discussed at the September 1 council meeting.
Councillor Daryl McLaughlin was hopeful of delaying the approval on Zion Line because of emails of concern that came in prior to the council meeting beginning.
“I read the emails today and comments,” he said. “Is there a reason why we have to pass this tonight? Is there a deadline?”
He was hopeful of giving township residents more time for comments to come in, since the deadline for submissions wasn’t for another week. He made a motion to table, but received no support from council.
Township Planner Ivan Burton said there is no reason not to postpone the decision, but it will be Industry Canada who will determine what are relevant and reasonable concerns. He further added that even if the site plan approval is passed, the public consultation process continues.
“Rogers still has to address reasonable concerns,” he stated.
Councillor Dave Mackay quipped, “If you have ever tried to make a call while in Beachburg or from the council office to the tractor, it’s just not possible. People in Beachburg need this,” he said. “It’s really bad reception.”
Councilllor Neil Nicholson said with the Rogers tower, he believes one can reach just about all the points in the township on the far end of the township, so he could appreciate the necessity for that location.
He pointed out that even with site plan approval, a building permit still needs to be approved.
However, Mr. Burton noted that because it’s federally regulated, no permit may be required, but he will be checking with the Chief Building Official.
Councillor Chris Olmstead, who has been through the process for his own property said, he could 99 percent confirm that no building permit is required.
He said no matter the decision made regarding the erection of a tower, “some people’s feelings are going to be hurt.
“Everybody wants it (better service) until it affects their back yard.”
Coun. Olmstead said he doesn’t even realize there is a tower on his property.
“It affects nobody locally whatsoever,” he said. “The only way you know it’s there is you see a red flashing light.”
As for the Whitewater Internet towers, Coun. Nicholson said it is a small business in Whitewater Region that has jumped leaps and bounds over the past two years, and there was lots of planning and discussion before that.
“The service it is providing in a large portion of the township is incredible,” he said. “There are other providers as well, but the infrastructure is not there and these guys are filling a gap.
“I’m on Whitewater Internet, and it’s an incredible difference from before.”
Coun. Nicholson said the company must follow the same procedures as any other tower being erected, however, the height they are erecting isn’t as tall, so there is a lower impact on neighbours.
He noted one of the strategic priorities for the township is communications, and while the township didn’t create the companies who are providing this service, council did help by taking away red tape.
“We have achieved something,” Coun. Nicholson said.
Mr. Burton said an agreement is expected to be made that the township’s fire department’s communications will be better served by the towers to be erected.
“It will be a complex agreement as the company will be leasing land to provide internet at certain locations, but we will be exchanging services in support of the lease of the lands,” he said.
Coun. Nicholson wants to hear back from the fire chief if communications improve and is hopeful paramedics and the township’s roads crew will be able to use the increased service.
Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader