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Telus cell tower nixed by city council due to high visibility

Decrease in height was offered to accommodate city esthetics
Mapping shows the site where Telus proposed to construct a new cell tower, and where the city offered as an alternative. Prince Rupert City Council voted against the proposed site on July 26. (Image: supplied)

There will be no public consultation on a new cell phone tower Telus wants to construct adjacent Highway 16 at Wilson Ave. as Prince Rupert City Council nixed the proposed location at the July 26 regular meeting.

Telus has been expanding cell phone coverage down Highway 16 including a stretch where there was no service for at least 20 km, between Terrace and Prince Rupert. A tower erected 60 km outside of Terrace in 2020 cost $1 million. As well two new towers near Port Edward were announced in Dec.

The city has expressed concerns about the visual impact of the tower at the gateway to Prince Rupert, Rob Buchan of iPlan, the city’s consultant said.

However, in a written report Buchan provided to city council he stated it should be noted that the actual authority for cell tower siting rests with Industry Canada, and the city council’s involvement is only advisory.

Telus and their consultant Sitepath Consulting Ltd. have been in discussions with the city regarding the new communications tower for some time, with Telus already amending its original proposal by offering to decrease the height of the cell tower from 50 meters down to 30 m.

Buchan agreed that while Telus has amended their original proposal, it still does not meet the city’s criteria

“Staff have been certainly working on this for some time … and we’ve given quite a number of alternative locations. We’ve asked them to actually identify an area that would work for their specifications. We haven’t seen that yet,” Buchan said.

The sites suggested by the city do not work for Telus, even though they presently house cell towers, Buchan added.

“They advise that those locations do not meet their coverage requirements,” he said.

When asked by Councilor Nick Adey why Telus was showing such a particular preference for the location next to the old BC Hydro location, Buchan responded that he didn’t know.

“They say that the other locations we’ve given them don’t work for them. 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,” the city consultant said.

Council agreed that it did not need to go to public notification on an issue they did not support in the first place, but that it would continue to work with the cell service provider to find a more suitable location.

Telus was not available to provide comment at the time of publication.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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