New Cell Tower Application

The town of Milton has received an application from Rogers for the installation of a 35 metre cell tower for the corner of Louis St Laurent and Thompson Road.  This location is going to be a Tim Hortons restaurant and the tower application is pending a public meeting and review by town staff.

The proponents of the application are Proliferate Group representing Rogers to keep up with the ever increasing demand for services in the community.  Regular readers of my blog are aware that there is still an application pending for a cell tower at New Life Church by Bell Canada.  These applications are not related.

Proliferate Group are holding a public meeting on Thursday April 25th from 6-8pm at Milton Leisure Centre.

If you would like to send comments you can always email me mike@mikecluett.ca or you can contact the following individuals:

Sean Galbraith, Rogers Communications
Profilerate Consulting Group
21A Prince Street Toronto, Ont. M5B 2P7
sgalbraith@proliferategroup.com
Phone: 416 732 5069

or

Angela Janzen, Planning & Development Department
Town of Milton
150 Mary Street Milton, Ont. L9T 6Z5
angela.janzen@milton.ca
Phone: 905 878 7211

I will update the blog when this application comes before council for review.  As with the other tower application, town comments will be based on if it complies with our telecommunications policy.  That can be found here.

Here are some pictures from the proposal received to give you a better idea where its to be located on the property.

UPDATE Report on Cell Tower Application

Please find attached a copy of the report that will be presented to the Administration & Planning Standing Committee this coming Monday.  Essentially its an update for information report on the status of the application for the cell tower at Thompson and Clark Blvd in Milton.

Report No. PD-053-12

Subject: Telecommunication Tower Proposal at 824 Thompson Road (New Life Church) – Update Report

RECOMMENDATION: THAT Report PD-053-12 be received for information;

AND THAT the Town Clerk be instructed to forward a copy of Report PD-053-12 to Lisa Raitt, Halton MP, for information
purposes;

AND FURTHER THAT staff be directed to report back to Council upon receiving any new information on the New Life Church tower proposal and/or the status of the investigations relating to alternative locations for tower infrastructure in the area of Louis St. Laurent Avenue and Thompson Road.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Town’s experiences with applications over the past few years, has brought about public awareness and highlighted issues and concerns in relation to the establishment of telecommunication facilities within the Milton community. Upon completion of a
review of the Town’s telecommunication related policies in early 2012, the Town revised its Telecommunications Facility Policy (Protocol) in May 2012.

At the same time that Council adopted the revised Protocol, Staff and Council took a position of non-concurrence in relation to a proposal for a free standing 29.9 m cross style tower on the New Life Church property at 824 Thompson Road. This proposal
raised a number of concerns with neighbouring residents during the public consultation phase of the application and brought about questions relating to the appropriateness of the proposed location. Staff and Industry Canada encouraged the Proponents to
investigate other alternatives prior to filing an impasse.

Since it has been several months since the public and Council have heard anything on this site specific matter, staff would like to provide an update on the application.

REPORT Background

In May 2012, Planning staff brought forward Report PD-026-12, which outlined the purpose and results of the Telecommunication Policy Review that staff had been undertaking for several months in consultation with industry representatives, area municipalities, and Industry Canada. Recommendations for revisions to the existing Protocol were outlined in a series of appendices to the report and a new Telecommunications Facility Policy (Protocol) was adopted by Council.

In addition to the above, the report also discussed an application for a proposed 29.9 m cross style telecommunications tower (with co-location opportunities for Bell and Public Mobile) on the New Life Church property located at 824 Thompson Road. This proposal raised a number of concerns during the public consultation phase for the proposal in relation to health, aesthetics and visual impact, and the proximity of the tower in relation to two daycares on the site and several residential dwellings in the adjacent neighbourhoods.

Staff evaluated the proposal and requested that Council consider and endorse the directions as set out in a draft letter of non-concurrence, attached as an appendix to the report. Council adopted the position of non-concurrence as discussed by staff and directed staff to provide the correspondence to the Proponent and Industry Canada to complete the consultation process associated with the tower proposal on at 824 Thompson Road.

Upon receipt of the Town’s position, the Proponent indicated their interest in filing an impasse with Industry Canada. Staff and Industry Canada encouraged the Proponents to investigate other alternatives prior to filing an impasse.

Discussion

Over the past few months, members of the public who took a significant interest in the tower proposal on the New Life Church property have contacted staff for an update on the application as the matter has seemed rather dormant. Both the public and the
affected Ward 6 and 7 Councillors are aware that staff and Industry Canada were encouraging the Proponents to look at alternative locations before filing an impasse.

Staff would like to note that prior to considering the subject site for the proposal, the Proponent (Bell) and other service providers who have a great need to provide service in this area, had explored opportunities with the commercial plaza at the northeast
corner of Louis St. Laurent Ave. and Thompson Rd., as well as the Town owned park across the street. Since they were unsuccessful in acquiring a willing landlord on these sites, Bell looked for other alternatives (i.e. the church property).

Since the May meeting, staff has continued its contact with Industry Canada, Bell and Public Mobile (carriers looking to establish on the New Life Church site) and Rogers (carrier looking for opportunities in the area) regarding the investigation of alternatives
for tower infrastructure closer to the intersection of Louis St. Laurent Avenue and Thompson Road. Staff is aware of the following activities since the Town provided its letter of non-concurrence on the New Life Church tower proposal:

• Bell is still pressing to move forward with the establishment of the cross style telecommunications tower on the New Life Church site;

• Bell tried to file an impasse with Industry Canada, however, Industry Canada will only accept an impasse request once all feasible siting alternatives in the area have been reviewed and exhausted, prior to reviewing and providing a decision on such matters (e.g. lands at the intersection of Louis St. Laurent Ave. and Thompson Rd. and other surrounding opportunities, if any).

• Public Mobile, who currently has a temporary tower on the New Life Church site, has investigated the feasibility of relocating the proposed joint tower with Bell to planned Tim Horton’s site (i.e. the northwest corner of Louis St. Laurent Ave. and Thompson Rd.). Public Mobile was advised through their site acquisition consultant that the landlord of the Tim Horton’s site is not willing to move
forward with a lease at this location in a timely manner. Public Mobile has indicated that they cannot wait any longer with respect to providing much needed coverage to the community. Resulting from the failure to find a site to relocate to, Public Mobile has requested through correspondence, that the Town give approval of the existing application proposed for 824 Thompson Road.

• Rogers has shown an interest in the area of Louis St. Laurent Ave. and Thompson Rd. for quite some time and has continued to work with the commercial plaza at the northeast corner of the above noted intersection to establish an agreement. Rogers and Bell have been in touch with one another to discuss opportunities in the past and more recently for co-location at this location. Rogers has noted that they have been unsuccessful in finalizing an agreement to date with the landowner and they do not have an estimate on
when they will have a concrete proposal to move forward with. They will keep Bell, the Town, and Industry Canada apprised of their progress.

• All options in the area, with a focus at this point on the intersection of Louis St. Laurent Ave. and Thompson Rd. are under review.
Even some of the alternatives mentioned above may be viable, Staff is uncertain at this point whether delays in securing a landlord would have any effect on Industry Canada’s decision to overturn the Town’s position, should a formal impasse be filed and accepted.

Members of the Public who have continued their contact with Planning staff on this matter have also been discussing their concerns with the New Life Church tower proposal with Halton MP Lisa Raitt. To ensure that Ms. Raitt continues to be informed, this report will be forwarded to her office.

Staff will endeavour to continue discussions with all parties involved and provide an update to Council as new information is available.

If you have any questions after reading the report, please let me know.

Staff Recommendation On Cell Tower? NO!

This post will be an evolving one through the day as I get more information.  The report on staffs recommendation to the Administration & Planning Standing Committee for May 14th, and in turn for Town Council’s review and vote has been released.  You can find the link here.

http://www.milton.ca/MeetingDocuments/Council/agendas2012/rpts2012/PD-026-12%20AJ%20Telecom%20Towers.pdf

Large File Warning!  Its 43 pages and probably a few MB’s so be prepared 🙂

Essentially the recommendation reads like this:

RECOMMENDATION:
THAT Report PD-026-12 be received for information;

THAT Council adopt the newly revised Telecommunications Facility Policy (“Protocol”) attached as Appendix “A” to Report PD-026-12 as policy, instructing staff to review all specified Telecommunication Facility locations in light of the new criteria;

THAT the Town Clerk be instructed to circulate the newly revised “Protocol” to the Region of Halton, Halton MPP’s, Halton MP’s and to all telecommunication providers, indicating the Town of Milton’s position is that Industry Canada’s protocol needs to be revised to require a formal mandated approval by the local municipality and that Industry Canada should participate more actively in the public consultation process;

AND THAT staff be directed to continue to work with all local telecommunications providers in developing acceptable design alternatives for the general community;

AND FURTHER THAT, with respect to the specific “New Life Church Tower” proposal located at 824 Thompson Road, Milton Council adopt the position of non-concurrence as discussed by staff and outlined in a draft Letter of Non-Concurrence found in Appendix “C” to Report PD-026-12.

More to come as I read through the report today to get the details, but as this report states regarding the Bell Cell tower proposal for New Life Chruch, staff recommends that it not be approved.

Cell Tower In Milton? My Thoughts

Some questions have been raised on our local Hawthorne Villager forums…what does Mike think?  Here it is.

As I had mentioned in the meeting at the Sports Centre last week, a report is coming from staff.  We don’t know what’s in that report and I will read it when it becomes available to not only me and the rest of council, but to the public as well.

Since receiving this information on March 1st, I have worked hard to facilitate educating the public on the process we need to follow.  Given that there are different regulations on the public process on certain heights of these towers, I made sure that this was put out there for people to know.  I posted it on my website and contacted to local media to make them aware of it as well.  Shortly after the posting on my blog, the Champion wrote an article about it to make it public to everyone in town, not just our areas. 

I have knocked on doors in my ward to first inform them of the proposal and then to educate them and me as to what they are thinking and how they feel.  I have heard from a lot of people in Milton about this proposed tower.   There has been a lot of information to digest over the last 2 months, I kid you not.  From Health Canada to Brazil studies and everything in between my head has been spinning and I know some of my council colleagues have felt the same way. 

I have talked with dozens of real estate agents in Milton to get an idea of potential impacts on property values.  Some have said they’ll go up and some have said they’ll stay the same and a few said go down.  Lots of information to digest in a short period of time.  I’ve taken the time from my day to day schedule to meet with residents in coffee shops and on their front porches to discuss this.  My other boss that I work for would rather I didn’t but to me, this is important.

I have probably driven many people crazy with me asking them about their opinions on cell towers in communities.  I don’t step into a coffee shop without asking someone that question and even while out having a beer with friends watching the NHL Playoffs I ask these questions…so I can get an idea of what’s to come.

Altus Group has submitted their information to the town for review as did probably thousands of Miltonians to be put into a report that comes out in a day or so. 

What I can tell you is I have heard from many people against this tower from day one and I have done my best to help promote the flow of information and to provide advice if asked on what the next steps will be.  The Town of Milton doesn’t have the final say on this and I understand others will pull out the quote from Lisa Raitts staff’s email but from what I have been told when it comes to the final decision on this tower, it aint us.  We can state our opinion and that might be enough to change minds but seeing how there have been towers erected in municipalities despite the opposition; it might not be enough to change.  I can only promise that I and the rest of council will do our best to make the voices of the people we represent heard.

I can also tell you that I have heard from many people who DO support the tower.  I can also tell people that when I visited them at the doors during the last 2 election campaigns that I would be their representative and listen to their concerns and do my best to serve them.  I feel that I’m doing that at this time. 

Do I want cell towers in residential areas? No.  Why? I would hope they could go somewhere else because really, no one WANTS them near where they live.  Problem is, with the consuming public demanding better and faster data and more reliable cell service, it’s a necessity.  Put it somewhere else we’ve been told.  My question would be….where then?  There are lots of places now that could be used for these towers and I hope they’ve all been investigated and inquiries made.  IF they haven’t, they should. 

There are a number of towers in residential areas already.  One is by the Foodport…many people didn’t know that it was there despite its height and the two flashing red lights on it.  There’s another one by MCRC daycare on Bronte Street and many people didn’t know THAT was there.  That’s just to name two.  They have been there in some cases since 2005.  Have property values decreased?  There isn’t any evidence to show that they have and I can only review the numbers as they are now.

When the report is released I will review it in detail as I do with many of the reports that we get before council meetings.  I will continue to consult with Ward 6 residents and others on their opinions after it’s released and I welcome a good hearty discussion about this.

Is this a short term issue? Nope.  Not a chance.  It’s not a short term issue because Milton is a growing, changing community that before it is all said and done will reach a population of close to, if not more than 250,000 people.  In that time technology will improve and the need from the consuming public will be for better, faster and more reliable phone and data service and this will come up again.

The rumour right now is another tower at the Rabba Plaza at Derry and Trudeau.  From what I’ve heard about that, it’s not going forward.  As we develop this town there will be questions asked, where DO we put these towers?  The Town of Milton’s policy is to encourage that they don’t go in residential areas, which I agree with that.  Health Canada needs to review these studies and do more to find out what the effects of cell towers have on the public.  The Region of Halton Medical officer already has stated that he agrees with current Health Canada studies but also says more research is needed. 

From a planning aspect we need to have discussions with these telecommunication companies on where these towers can be placed and if at all possible NOT be located in residential areas.  It can’t be swept under the rug or attempted in the dark of night while no one’s looking.

Over the next few years Milton will continue its transformation from being a quiet little town of 35,000 people to a major centre in the GMA (The Greater Milton Area as I refer to it as) and we need to have these discussions every step of the way.  From what our streets will look like to what services we will have in neighbourhood parks to serve our growing population, to who will be using the Velodrome after the games are over, to working with the province to make sure our hospital is expanded, to what companies we will be trying to get to move their offices here along with much needed jobs to Milton, we need to have these discussions.  The unofficial ticker right now is we are close to if not over the 100,000 mark.  Are we done?  You aint seen nothing yet.

As this continues I hope that everyone is part of the discussion every step of the way.  It’s something that I believe in very strongly and I’ve campaigned on it endlessly and putting my money where my mouth is it’s something I’ve done since day one as an elected official.  I will always listen to people’s concerns and do my best to make the right decisions around the council table and be a voice for everyone.