Council gives Bell tower green light


By Barb McKay

Kincardine council has given a proposed Bell tower at the Kincardine Legion a final stamp of approval tonight, despite a petition signed by 28 residents against the plan.


Representatives from Bell Mobility brought a revised plan for the tower to last Wednesday’s meeting. Because the Legion has a heritage designation, under the Ontario Heritage Act Bell must obtain written consent from the municipality to install the telecommunications tower.


Prior to the June 11 council meeting, Bell met with members of the Legion, the municipality and Heritage Kincardine to discuss an altered design of the 25-metre tower to make it less conspicuous. Heritage Kincardine approved the design changes, which removed the Legion name in place of poppies and had the legs of the tower painted dark grey instead of white.


Councillors had a few questions for Bell representative Joel Swaggerman before they were ready to sign off on the tower. Councillor Jacqueline Faubert pointed out that a petition had been signed by residents near the Legion who have concerns that the tower could negatively impact their health and property values.


“These are the two issues we run into the most with towers,” Swaggerman said. “Regarding health, all towers have to comply with Safety Code 6, a Health Canada regulation that sets safety standards.”


Swaggerman said engineers have run emissions analysis for the tower and indicated that they would be well below the Health Canada limit. In terms of property values, he said, it’s hard to predict what will positively or negatively impact them, but the fact is more people are choosing wireless communication over landlines.


“You’re only going to see that grow and that is why this infrastructure is required,” he said.


Councillor Ken Craig asked who would be responsible for maintaining the structure.


“It’s one thing to have a tower downtown, it’s another thing to have a shabby tower downtown,” he said.


Swaggerman said Bell would sign a letter of understanding with conditions attached to it to ensure the tower is maintained.


Faubert wanted to know if the wireless signal would be improved for carriers other than Bell. Swaggerman responded that Bruce Telecom, Telus and Bell customers would experience improved service. The purpose of the tower is to provide better service downtown and along the lakeshore.


Faubert also inquired if alternative sites, including the Kincardine hospital, had been considered for the tower. Swaggerman said Bell first looks at co-location opportunities with other towers because it’s a faster and more economical option. However, the only other towers are located on the outskirts of the municipality. Roof tops are another consideration, but there were none high enough to allow the tower to communicate with the other Bell towers at the south end of Kincardine.


Last Wednesday, council agreed to approve the tower placement at the Legion.