All proposals for new cell towers in Mission will be put on hold until a new wireless telecommunications towers policy is developed by the city.
The move comes on the heels of a request from Rogers Communications Inc. to install a 50-metre tower on Rodman Avenue in Silverdale to meet the growing demand for service.
“Rogers is seeking to improve services in parts of central Mission by the end of the year,” said Rogers’ municipal affairs specialist, Peter Leathley.
It has taken the company close to two years to find a suitable location, explained Leathley.
After meeting with Rodman Avenue residents a few weeks prior, Mayor Ted Adlem blasted the representative from the telecommunications company last Monday for not discussing the issue with him or district staff before putting the proposal forward.
“You could’ve asked us and we could’ve given you suggestions (for the tower),” said Adlem. “It is this mayor’s suggestion that you’ve chosen the wrong piece of property. I’m shocked you would consider building a tower in a residential area, a residential area that will be in high density in the future.”
Adlem later explained he met with 38 residents who lived in the area about the issue and he was surprised he had never heard about it.
According to a district staff report, Rogers hosted a public information meeting on Nov. 19, and residents living in a 300-metre radius of the proposed cell tower received written notification.
A staff report by senior planner Dan Sommer stated, “The need to revisit the policy and its application to cell tower proposals is largely based on public criticism that the policy is outdated and inadequate to address the prevalence of today’s cell tower proposals which has largely resulted from increased data demands and the constant need for carriers to improve cell coverage.”
Staff will identify appropriate sites in the interest of the entire community and will consult the public and service providers to develop the new policy.
“In my humble opinion, major towers, like the ones being proposed, should not be allowed in residential areas,” said Adlem, who suggested locations such as industrial areas or the municipal forest are more suitable.
Coun. Dave Hensman also wants the towers to be disguised as trees to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
“It’s very common in Ontario, California and Oregon,” he added. “The cellular phone industry spends millions of dollars to produce products that are eye-catching. I’m just asking they place the same emphasis on their infrastructure.”