A proposed telecommunications tower has Brant County councillors weighing better internet service against concerns of neighbours.
“I’m really torn on this decision,” Coun. Brian Coleman said during a recent planning and development committee meeting. “Internet service has become an integral part of rural living.
I can tell you that during the last (municipal) election that was one of the biggest concerns was poor internet connections.
Coun. David Miller said he gets two or three calls or e-mails a week from people upset with poor internet access.
It’s sometimes said that towers don’t belong in rural settings but it’s people in the rural settings that lack internet access whether it’s to run their farming operations or have kids going on zoom for learning.
Coun. Marc Laferriere spoke in favour of the tower.
I’m an educator in my full-time work and I see students from rural communities who are at a disadvantage because of a lack of adequate internet service” Laferriere said. “We have business owners, we have students and others who have to utilize cellphone service in order to participate in activities that are a part of their daily lives.
At issue is a proposal by Shared Tower Inc. of Toronto to erect a 65-metre self-supporting telecommunications tower at 447 Baptist Church Rd. The proposal was brought to councillors by Tracey Pillon-Abbs, of LandSquared, a Toronto real estate consulting firm.
Telecommunications towers are approved by Industry Canada but, for approval to be granted, proponents must follow a protocol that includes public consultation. The proper consultation process was followed but county staff found the location doesn’t fit municipal guidelines.Article content
The tower would be located 110 metres away from the nearest home and 30 metres from a natural heritage feature. The county requires telecommunications towers to be 195 metres from homes and natural heritage features.
Colleen Kelly, who lives next to the proposed site at 431 Baptist Church Rd., said the tower would reduce the value of the property she shares with her husband, Matthew. It also would worsen an existing water problem, which would harm their hazelnut orchard.
Rural farmland is not the place for it,” Kelly said. “We feel the approval of this project would set a frightening precedent that would allow towers to go up all over rural areas of our county.
But Pillon-Abbs said the water issue would be addressed and possibly improved.
She also told councillors the impact of towers on surrounding property values is debatable. With COVID and more people working from home, it (internet service) actually now helps homes increase in value because more people are looking for homes where they can get good coverage.
Councillors voted to defer this issue for another month to give Pillon-Abbs more time to resolve issues.