Council narrowly supports Brittania cell tower
Councillor says vote made her feel ill
LAKE OF BAYS – A contentious cell tower proposal received support from the Township of Lake of Bays on Feb. 12, much to the chagrin of residents who live in close proximity to the site.
A petition with more than 120 signatures to stop a Rogers Communications Inc. tower from moving forward, and numerous delegations and letters against it, didn’t deter council from supporting a minority of residents who have spoken in favour of the tower.
Residents who attended the meeting were shocked when the vote came in 4-3 in support of the proposal, especially since the tie came down to Coun. Nancy Tapley’s vote. It’s her ward the tower will be erected in, if Rogers obtains approval from Industry Canada.
“I’m sorry,” she immediately said to those residents, after the vote.
It was evident the decision was a struggle for her, as she didn’t seem to know which way she was going to vote until the final moment.
“I feel physically ill; I’ve got that road, but the whole township too,” she said.
Also in support of the cell tower were Couns. Ginny Burgess, Ruth Ross and Mayor Bob Young. Their position came from what they indicated was a desire to drive forward the township’s economy.
The mayor said the amount of correspondence the township has received on the issue has been divided down the middle.
“We have a classic split community,” he said. “But this is also a small sampling of our residents. I would like to suggest the benefits of such a tower are a little more than just local, it’s township-wide because we want to be able to say, ‘we’re open for business’.”
However, councillors in opposition of the tower thought there were too many unanswered questions to move forward with the approval and that there are other alternatives to the erection of the tower.
“When they (Rogers) see the amount of opposition, it would be worthwhile for them to re-visit other sites and see if it can be located further from residences, where there would be lower impact,” said Coun. Shane Baker. “The local community has demonstrated they’re nearly 100 per cent opposed, so I have to take that into account.”
If the 80-metre tower is approved by Industry Canada it will be located on Britannia Road near Regional Road 9.
A Rogers’ representative said the site had been selected to satisfy customer demand for better service in the area.
“Proximity to users is one of the most important aspects for us as wireless technology needs to be close to its users,” said Tatyana Moro, municipal relations specialist with Rogers. “It would be great to place the towers somewhere in the bush where no one can see them, unfortunately that’s not where the users are and we need to be close to the users.”
She also wanted to squash rumours that this site proposal was a replacement of the Lynx Lake Road tower proposal in Huntsville, which was vehemently opposed by residents in that vicinity as well as council.
Mayor Young said it would never be possible for council to make a decision that would make all residents happy and reminded those present the final decision comes down to Industry Canada.
Residents in opposition of the tower have said they will continue to fight the proposal through other government officials.