A proposal that would see a 60-metre cell tower built northeast of Beaver Mines is facing some stiff opposition.
The application, submitted by Calgary-based LandSolutions Inc. on behalf of Rogers Communications, was brought before the MD of Pincher Creek’s municipal planning commission Sept. 5.
The development, if approved, would see the large structure built on private property just north of Highway 507 and east of Range Road 22. But nearby residents question not only its location on a lower section of terrain, but what benefit it would provide in cellular coverage.
Protect the environment
“We’ve put a lot of energy into trying to keep this region pristine,” said Jim Parker, who lives about a half-mile south of the proposed site.
“You just have to go north and there’s a lot of wind turbines where you get the red lights at night. We’re lucky, (the turbines) aren’t right in our view, but I sure wouldn’t want to see a bunch of huge wind towers. It would destroy the beauty of that region,” he said.
“Residents live there because it’s one of the untouched areas, and when we’ve spent so much time and energy trying to develop that corridor into such a beautiful area, a tourist area, I think Rogers can try harder to find an alternative spot.”
Laura Parker, Jim’s wife, shares the same feelings about protecting the natural environment, but her leading concern following the meeting was not hearing from the other side of the equation.
“I think it was really disappointing that there wasn’t a representative from Rogers at a development meeting (so) that we could have had some of our concerns addressed directly.”
“Shame on them for nothing being here,” she added.
While not against better cell coverage, residents aren’t sure the location is ideal.
“I know the landowners don’t know what radius this will cover and I’m concerned that people would make such a decision for development and not have a good, strong knowledge of the impacts and benefits of it,” Laura said.
“Is it what the community really needs? I also worry more and more about the environmental impact,” she continued.
“I’ve tried to do some reading up and it says there really hasn’t been enough studies to know the impact (development has) on the environment, wildlife, birds, people. We need to start being more protective of our lands.”
Location under scrutiny
Another nearby resident, Larry Bartsoff, knows all too well about setting up towers. Now retired, he has almost 40 years experience in erecting power grids, including with Fortis Alberta.
“If you look at a cell tower, they’re normally up high,” he said. “They’re in a local zone, but this one is supposedly covering a wide area, so what is the real coverage this tower is expected to do?”
Bartsoff and those living in the area had hoped to hear at the planning commission meeting.
“Why is it at this location? Why is it so low?” — referring to the terrain, with higher hills nearby.
“Why is it in a location that won’t provide better coverage?” Bartsoff questioned, following the public session.
Like the Parkers, Bartsoff wants to see the area’s scenery protected and migrating wildlife unaffected by further development.
“How come as an MD, the wind chargers are stopped at a certain location, a certain area. They’re not pressing to put further (turbines) in because it would be a total violation, and that’s, basically, what this is,” he said.
“And, if you come over the hill into Beaver Mines out of Mill Creek, and you hit the top and you look down, it’s like a Swedish village, almost. It’s serene. It is peaceful.”
There’s an added concern that the tower could cause an indirect traffic hazard.
“It’s not that far off the road … 300 feet, 130 metres, and as you come up that hill, that flashing light is going to be right in your eyes. There’s enough stuff to watch for, deers and other animals,” Bartsoff pointed out.
“And now you could potentially have this light blinking at you for a half a minute.”
What happens next
Needing more information on the application, the municipal planning commission has asked MD administration to write a letter asking Rogers to clarify some of the details of the proposal, including the area of coverage the new tower would provide.
It’s hoped directors will have a clearer picture when the commission meets again on Oct. 3.
Shootin’ the Breeze reached out to LandSolutions Inc. but was told the company couldn’t comment. A followup call to Rogers’ corporate media department was not returned by our press deadline.