Wednesday, July 28, 2021

City Council to Telus: Try again ... City provides some push back on site choice for Cellular tower proposed by communication company

Telus has proposed the placement of a cellular communication
tower in the area adjacent to the BC Hydro site on Highway 16

"I put forward the motion that we refuse this location, as, cause of the same as the previous one. Which, it's the location it's not so much the height that they've changed. So I'm thinking that we should put forward the motion to basically refuse the location but to work with Telus, and again with the proposed locations that we have given them" -- Councillor Wade Niesh providing the motion for discussion on a tower proposal from Telus on Monday evening

Councillor Wade Niesh led the charge on Monday evening, as Prince Rupert City Council dug in its heels over a proposed cellular communication tower, expressing its lack of support for a location that Telus would prefer to build an area near the BC Hydro site on highway 16.

The councillor provided the wording for a motion Monday that will urge the communication company to find another site for their tower, with the city having offered up a stretch of land along Highway 16 as their preference.

Duelling opinions on cel tower location choices. Telus prefers a location
near the BC Hydro site. The City  would rather see a location
along the Highway on the east side of Mount Hays

The decision to make their thoughts clear to the communication giant came following an extensive report from the city's contract planner Robert Buchan, who charted some of the background to what could be a percolating dispute between the City and the national communication provider.

Among the themes introduced by Mr. Buchan was how the Telus site has already been noted by the city as being in a high profile location that does not meet the preferred location criteria as outlined in City council policy.

"The report before you is seeking Council's direction on whether or not it wishes Telus to proceed with community consultation on a proposed cel tower adjacent to Highway 16. The city has already given feedback once on a previous version of this, but that proposal has been amended  reducing the size of the tower from 50 metres to 30 metres. 

However it is still in a high profile location that does not meet the preferred location criteria as outlined in Council's policy regarding this. So we're wondering whether or not Council wants to give feedback now asking Telus to find a new location, or whether it should procede  with community consultation on this and render a decision at a later time" -- iPlan planner Rob Buchan

Mayor Lee Brain sought some clarification on the path forward for council on the topic, with Mr. Buchan outlining some of the background to the issue for the council members.

"Staff have been certainly working on this for some time, Mr. Pucci before myself and we've given quite a number of alternative locations and we've asked them to actually give us an area identifying the entire, I guess an area that would work for their specifications. 

We haven't seen that yet, we are aware that they are looking at other options but they are very interested in this particular location. But given its sensitivity at the gateway to the municipality, we thought that council may want to weigh in on this now, and if you're ok going to public consultation you can let them know that. 

But if it's simply not a suitable location I think it's reasonable for council to advise Telus of that at this point. We would still work with Telus to find a location that would work for them. -- -- iPlan planner Rob Buchan

With Councillor Niesh's motion the spark of the debate, two of the city's six councillors spoke to the topic

Councillor Adey inquired as to the preference by Telus and if there are any technical reasons that may be behind their choice.

Mr. Buchan provided some notes on that topic, though he noted how technical themes were not part of the skill set of City staff.

"No,  just the results of those technical reasons. They say that the other locations we've given them don't work for them.  Though we're not in a position to be able to assess whether or not that is completely accurate or not because it's not our skill set. We're aware, or hear that other cel providers do have service, community wide service without this location so it's not clear to us why it wouldn't work for them as well"

Councillor Mirau endorsed the position of Councillor Niesh, noting how the city should not seek out a public notification for something they wouldn't agree with in the first place.

"I tend to agree with Councillor Niesh on this piece, I don't think we need to go to public notification for something that we wouldn't support in the first place. So I think it makes more sense to try and find a location that works best for both parties and then move from there."

Other than the mention of the proposed location in a 'gateway' area, neither staff or Council members expanded on any other reasons as to why they were opposed to the Highway location adjacent to the BC Hydro site.

You can review the full report from iPlan from our preview of the council session from Monday.

The Discussion of the Telus tower placement plans can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting at the 28 minute mark.

More notes related to Monday's Council session can be explored from our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of past Council discussion topics is available here.

Other themes on communications notes can be explored from our archive page here.

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