Bracebridge tree tower’s fate still unclear
Whether a proposed communications tower at the intersection of Highway 11 and Highway 118 East can be disguised as a tree is still up in the air.
Bracebridge councillors first toyed with the idea of having the 148-foot Bell Mobility tower disguised as a tree in late August, following a decision by Muskoka Lakes council earlier in the year to approve similar towers.
The company originally requested to build the tower in Bracebridge in either a three-legged or “monopole” model. Council, however, wanted to see if it could be designed to blend in more seamlessly with the surrounding treeline.
In a report tabled before councillors last week, assistant development services director Dana Rahkola said Bell’s consultants have said that building a tree tower in Bracebridge could be a difficult undertaking.
“Bell Mobility’s consultant has advised staff that the company has not built a tree-type tower to that height to date, and structural issues may emerge with tower torsion from wind shear and the additional weight on the increased number of branches associated with ice and snow loading,” he said.
Because of the proposed tower’s proximity to Muskoka Airport, Rahkola said an aviation analyst hired by Bell believes that the tower will likely be required to have red and white striped painting and lighting if it is built as a three-legged or monopole model. The company has, however, agreed to investigate if other options are available.
“Bell’s engineers will review the feasibility of a tree-type tower and advise their consultants accordingly,” said Rahkola.
Rahkola said he anticipates that Bell will table more information by the next council meeting on Sept. 19, at which time town staff will be able to provide council with more insight into whether a tree tower is feasible.
In earlier comments, Rahkola said the tower is being built to fill a weak spot in Bell’s service area, which has resulted in a “significant number” of dropped calls.