Cell tower in Combermere approved, controversy remains

Robert Fisher
Staff Reporter

BARRY’S BAY – Council for the Township of Madawaska Valley, by a 3-2 vote, narrowly approved the construction of a new cell tower by Rogers Communications near Dafoe Road in Combermere.
Despite the approval, controversy over the tower remains and discussion at council during the meeting was, at times, emotional.

The township held a public meeting Nov. 27 in Combermere where residents were able to express their concerns and opposition or approval of the project. The majority of the public opinion at that meeting was negative.

Township planning manager Luke Desjardins opened discussion by informing council that the location of the proposed tower had been moved based on feedback at the Nov. 27 meeting. The tower is part of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) project to improve communication capability in the region.

“There has been a few amendments to the site,” Desjardins said, “and a good discussion at the November 27th special council meeting.

“I understand as a result of those previous discussions, Mr (Eric) Belchamber (representing Rogers Communications) will be speaking to a final proposed site for the tower.”

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Suzanne Klatt informed council that after the council information package was completed, it was sent to residents who had asked for update notifications on the project. Klatt said she received correspondence from Judy Cole. The CAO said the letter had been attached to the meeting agenda package.

Klatt read Cole’s letter in full. Cole’s letter contained hearsay and insults, at one point stating, “…we have bent over backwards to try to work with this man. In my opinion he seems to think he can treat us and the council in a condescending and dismissive manner.”

Belchamber spoke and refuted the points in Cole’s letter. In particular, Cole said council, at the November meeting, mandated Rogers and residents work together to find a location for the tower.

“This simply isn’t the case,” Belchamber said. He then read the motion council passed at the meeting. The motion did not mandate Rogers work in concert with residents on a suitable location. Belchamber continued, saying, “please note that Judy has misrepresented the content of my correspondence with her from December 5th.” He said he sent a message to Cole on Dec. 5 and received no reply. He also clarified the issue of putting the tower on Crown land, which is not in the scope of the EORN project.

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