Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

A towering issue that angered some Coombs residents may soon be considered by the Regional District of Nanaimo for recommendation to the Minister of Innovation, Science, Economic Development for approval.

Rogers Communications Inc. has a proposal to erect a 61-metre, self-supported telecommunications tower on private land in Coombs, located at 2540 Alberni Highway.

The Electoral Area Services Committee, at its meeting on Tuesday, May 14, said that Rogers had satisfactorily completed all requirements including consultation with the public. Staff also indicated that the regional district concurs with the land use of Rogers’ plan to construct a wireless telecommunications facility. Before all of these developments are relayed to Rogers and the ministry, regional district staff’s recommendations will still have to go through the RDN committee of the whole for discussion, before presenting it to the RDN board for approval.

Once that is achieved, the RDN’s land use concurrence of the project will be submitted to the Minister of Innovation, Science, Economic Development (ISED), which has sole jurisdiction over inter-provincial and international communication facilities and makes the final decision to approve and license the location of the antenna systems.

Local governments are referred applications for proposed towers and are provided the opportunity to comment on the proposal.

Rogers initiated the project in Coombs following complaints about poor cellular service in the area.

READ MORE: Rogers spends nearly half the $3.47 billion raised by wireless spectrum auction

There was a public information meeting hosted by Rogers on March 1 at the Arrowsmith Hall in Coombs and 35 people attended and 37 written submissions were received. Most expressed opposition and were concerned it was too close to residential properties. They feared it would have potential health risks as well as adversely impact the aesthetic of area, environment and property values. Out of 37 responses received from the meeting, seven were in support and 27 were against it and three were neither for nor against.

An alternative site was suggested by residents but Rogers was not able to get a lease agreement with the owner nor were they able to find another suitable location.

An online petition was organized in opposition of the proposed tower and had 184 people sign. According to RDN staff, Rogers has provided responses to key concerns and are satisfied with them.

No further public consultation will be required from Rogers.

Rogers has provided site plans, detailed structure description and renderings, elevation plans and photo simulations in support of their proposal.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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