| Jun 04, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 4, 2009 Trouble with towers - June 8 public meeting over internet towers back onBy Jeff Green

Barret Xplornet is the company that received the contract from Frontenac County to install 150 foot towers for high speed internet to cover service gaps in parts of Central Frontenac Township after the county received a federal grant.

Barret has found four locations for towers and has negotiated a lease agreement with the landowners where the proposed towers are to be located. They sent their plans to the township in April, and while telecommunications towers do not fall under the township’s authority, consultation is required with the local property owners and the local municipality.

Central Frontenac Council took issue with a major cell phone company over its assertion that towers are not subject to municipal processes.

On April 28 the township planner, Glenn Tunnock, issued a report that recommended that two of the Xplornet towers, the ones in Arden and Crow Lake, be located elsewhere from their proposed locations because they would be too close to dwellings and would pose a risk should they fall.

Concerning the Arden tower, Tunnock wrote, “Our main concern with the tower for this site is safety. In the rare event the 45 m (147.6 ft) tall tower was to fall to the south, it would collapse on the house on the same lot causing potential harm or death to humans. This is unacceptable.”

In recommending that Barret find an alternate site, Tunnock said “The topography surrounding Arden provides Barrett with many opportunities to site the tower at the elevation and height required.”

In Arden, Joanne Pickett, who lives near Clear Lake, has been organizing residents who oppose the tower location. “Locating the tower in sight of the lake is not in the interests of property owners on the lake; there are better locations,” she said.

For its part, Barret Xplornet has dismissed Tunnock's concerns. Writing on their behalf, Maureen O'Higgins of Actionable Intelligence, the consultants hired by Frontenac County to manage the wireless high speed internet project, said “ ... the risk of tower collapses is extremely low. No Barret tower has ever collapsed. A data search has not identified any instances of collapse of this kind of stand alone telecommunications tower in Canada.”

O'Higgins said that the risk of a tree collapsing on a house is much greater, and that towers are “precisely engineered; strong winds would pose greater risk to houses than towers.”

A public meeting to discuss the tower locations had been postponed at a meeting of Central Frontenac Council last Tuesday, but the township quickly realised that the meeting needs to take place this month to satisfy requirements of the initial grant, so it has been reinstated.

The proposed Crow Lake tower would be on Cross Road. Tunnock said it is within range of two houses. The Parham tower is slated for a location where Nedow Road becomes Nedow Lane. The Godfrey/Piccadilly tower's proposed location is 1931 Oak Flats road.

While Tunnock had no issue with the location of the Piccadilly and Parham towers, he said that any towers should have a 5 foot 9 inch fence surrounding them for safety reasons.

O'Higgins replied that Barrett will “install anti-climbing shields on every tower”. 

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