Bell Canada's efforts to erect a cellphone tower in Minnow Lake is running into opposition from residents in the area, as well as the ward councillor.
The Bell Mobility tower would be Bell's 23rd in Greater Sudbury, and would significantly boost cell service to customers between Second Avenue and Coniston.
While the city doesn't have the authority to reject the tower, the city's planning department will vote Monday whether to support it.
Several speakers are on the agenda, including Bell, residents in the area opposed to the tower and a representative from the MS Society, which supports the plan. Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett, who has been critical of cellphone tower policies, wrote in a letter to Northern Life that the rules need to change.
“This should not happen in anyone’s backyard,” Kett wrote. “It definitely is about to happen to residents of Levesque Street and Bancroft Drive. They and our local government can’t stop this happening. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction on the siting of wireless and data systems.”
“On Oct 7, I’ll bring a delegation of residents from the Levesque and Bancroft area to try to persuade our planning committee not to concur with the location of this tower.”
The company held public consultations last summer, and as a result, changed the tower's specifications in an attempt to gain support from the city and mitigate opposition.
It has been scaled back to 30 metres from 35, and Bell has changed the way the antennas would be mounted on the pole, “to lessen the visual impact” on the neighbourhood.
It would be located on land owned by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, north of Bancroft Drive and east of Levesque Street, and would be about 20 feet from the nearest home.
Under federal legislation, the city has no control over the location of the tower, which can be approved by Industry Canada without land rezoning or other routine procedures someone building a home, for example, would have to follow.
However, companies like Bell are required to try and gain approval from municipalities, and to hold public consultations, and make a genuine effort to address any local concerns. The results factor into Industry Canada's decision whether to approve the tower.
In its submission to the city, Bell said it looked at several sites, but the Bancroft-Levesque location is the only one that addresses the cellphone coverage issues the company is trying to remedy.
“Bell Mobility has advised that co-location is not possible in this situation, as there is no other suitable existing or proposed tower structures in the vicinity that will provide adequate wireless coverage,” the staff report reads. “The tower, however, will accommodate additional carriers should another carrier express interest in this location.”
Bell investigated five locations, one in the area of The Kingsway and Levesque Street, three city-owned sites east of Levesque Street, and a property in the Dorsett and Bancroft Drive area.
“Following the public information session held in August 2012, Bell also investigated the use of a city property at Moonlight Beach,” the report says. “Bell has advised that the Moonlight beach property would not provide adequate coverage for the target area.”
Note: the original version of this story incorrectly listed the distance the tower would be from the nearest home. Northern Life apologizes for the error.