Crownsnest Pass council is pointedly withholding support for Rogers Communications’ bid to put a cellular tower in Coleman, castigating the telecom giant for allegedly dismissing concerns from the owner of an area RV park who says the tower would obstruct tenants’ mountain views.
A British Columbia land use planning firm notified the municipality in late February of Rogers’ intent to build a 61-metre cell tower near the Crowsnest River RV Park in order to boost wireless reception.
From its office in Vancouver, Cypress Land Services meanwhile notified six people at Sentinel Road addresses, including RV park owner Terry Kenney. Rogers also advertised the installation site in a local newspaper — all part of a public consultation process required by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a collection of federal departments and agencies with exclusive jurisdiction over the licensing of telecommunications sites, including the proposed tower.
Kenney and another community resident promptly told CLS they wanted Rogers to put the tower somewhere else in the vicinity — anywhere other than the proposed location in Sentinel Industrial Park, nearly half a kilometre south of Highway 3.
“It would fall within our view of the mountains. And in all our conversations, [CLS] led me to believe we’d certainly enter into meaningful talks,” Kenney told Shootin’ the Breeze Friday. CLS staffer Kristina Bell even emailed Kenney drawings of two alternate locations, Kenney said.
But Kenney said CLS and Rogers “started playing hardball with me” when the consultation period lapsed in early April. At that point, Kenney said neither company appeared willing to seriously consider an alternate tower site.
“While some views to the north may be impacted, the majority of views from this commercial industrial area are to the west and south and will not be impacted by the placement of the tower,” Bell wrote in a May 23 email to municipal administration.
Acting on Rogers’ behalf, CLS asked council for “a letter of concurrence” validating Rogers’ consultation process. Bell also supplied a sample resolution acknowledging Rogers had met its due diligence and stating that the municipality agreed with the site location.
Council was in no mood to concur when the matter came up at chambers June 6.
Mayor Blair Painter said he doubted Rogers’ sincerity. The company had gone along with an obligatory consultation process that ignored residents’ stated opposition, he went on, highlighting that ISED’s jurisdiction meant council never really had a say, anyway.
Painter and several councillors said they’d welcome the cell tower if Rogers lined up a better site in the Sentinel area.
“I don’t give a crap where it goes. It just shouldn’t be there,” Coun. Lisa Sygutek said, calling Rogers’ handling of Kenney’s concerns “insulting” and “disgusting.”
“I agree with all these concerns, but they don’t give a squat,” Coun. Dean Ward said.
Council then unanimously passed Coun. Vicki Kubik’s resolution to send Rogers “a letter of non-concurrence,” along with a request for information about human health and wildlife impacts. The letter will also state council’s concerns to protect the Pass’s natural beauty, per a friendly amendment by Mayor Painter.
Rogers did not immediately respond to the Breeze’s request for comment on Friday.