Township lifts moratorium on cell tower concurrence


BARRY’S BAY – Madawaska Valley Township council has voiced its support for a proposed cell tower in Combermere.

This comes after council passed a resolution in May 2014, indicating the township will withhold concurrence until there is proof for a need for future towers, that towers are not located in inhabited private property, and that future towers would be equipped with a fibre optic cable to mitigate health concerns.

The resolution came after several ratepayers in Combermere voiced their objections to the tower. Their main concerns included health and safety, property values and the environment.

But that resolution was rescinded at the regular council meeting on July 21, following requests from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), CanACRE Ltd., and Bell Mobility.

The meeting started with a presentation from Kurt Eby, director of regulatory affairs for the CWTA. He explained that as more and more people use a wireless system, the network slows down. More towers are required to sustain the growing demand.

The issue of cell towers has been a hot topic for years, Eby admitted. However, he added the CWTA has worked with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a template for antenna siting.

Industry Canada followed suit shortly after and adopted these rules, which means if a municipality requests it, public consultations are mandatory.

Eby said municipalities can also develop their own protocol that fits the community. This ensures that towers meet requirements such as colour and height.

The township’s resolution raised some concern with the CWTA, Eby explained.

 “Our members saw this, and the conditions that the resolution is seeking to establish are somewhat unclear,” he said. “The conditions are onerous and could be technically impossible to meet and at the same time provide the service that’s being demanded in the township.”

Get your July 23, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read more of this story.