HE council welcomes Bell plans for communication tower

By Darren Lum

The following are Highlands East news briefs from the March 23 council meeting.

A Bell Canada telecommunications tower proposal is bringing hope for greater connectivity to Wilberforce and surrounding areas.

From its coverage objectives, the report claims this “will vastly improve network capacity and coverage on the mobile LTE network, and provide much needed wireless home internet services in this community by bringing Wireless to the Home (“WTTH”) services for those that can access the signal. Coverage for the community will be rated as excellent if the proposed tower is installed.”

The proposal includes a 100-metre “guyed telecommunications tower” on private property abutting Clark Hill Road, which is on lands designated ‘Rural” in the official plan. It’s pointed out that “radio installations are federally regulated and do not need to adhere to local zoning bylaw regulations.” The proposed site is located at the top of the hill between Clark Hill Road and Loop Road in the Wilbeforce town centre.

This site was chosen over several other potential sites in areas outside of town because of “radio frequency signal propagation issues due to topographical constraints in the area, significant road and utility access location concerns with the network, and the need to be closer to users to maximize coverage and capacity for the community.”

Bell said they recognized the community is under serviced in terms of network infrastructure and that the current Wilberforce proposed site is ideally situated as far as line of sight related to the topography of the area to enable reach to surrounding areas. The reduction of the tower’s height by a few metres will bring “significantly diminished services to surrounding areas.”

Highlands East CAO and treasurer Shannon Hunter hopes this is just the start of things to come.

“Hopefully this is just the first step to meeting many of our challenges in this area and I think we’ll see multiple towers soon coming our way,” she said.

Mayor Dave Burton raised concern about a potential conflict with the site of the tower and a pre-existing snowmobile trail. Hunter said she will communicate with Bell about this and report back to council about it. Counc. Cam McKenzie acknowledged if there is a conflict that he is confident a resolution can be reached.

Property owners within a radius of 300 metres of the tower site will receive a notification package with the tower proposal information and invitation to comment, as prescribed by the federal ministry ISEDC (formerly Industry Canada). There will be a 30-day public consultation period during which the public can comment and ask questions by mail, fax, and email. There is a planned effort for public outreach, which includes advertisements in local papers and direct contact to residents by mail.

Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall clarified this Bell initiative is not to be confused for the recent announcement involving Rogers and that having two communication companies working towards improving connectivity is good news.

“I mean we’re definitely being considered … this is awesome news. Especially with the challenges we’ve had with COVID so I wish all the success for everyone in making all this happen. We certainly need broadband,” he said.

Cardiff pool change room work on hold until after season
The work at the Cardiff pool is being delayed because of additional work related to its slab and current lack of a foundation.

“These were substantial changes and after reviewing it was really felt it was beyond the scope of our original tender so we went back to the contractor and through discussion it was agreed that this was beyond the regular scope,” Shannon Hunter said.

Budgeted for $130, 788 in the 2021 budget, the original tender went to Royalty General Construction Ltd. Council will re-tender the work at a future date and operate the pool.

She added the change rooms will be used this season as they are.

“What the current plan is to have drawings prepared and a material list prepared and go out for tender again as soon as those two things are done and we may be in the position to do those change rooms after the current season, but we are still planning on doing the project it just won’t be done before this season,” she said.