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Opposition stops tower

Rogers Communications has withdrawn an application to build a cell tower in Port Coquitlam
Rogers Communications has withdrawn an application to build a cell tower in Port Coquitlam's Greenmount Park, a controversial proposal that drew criticism from many residents in the area.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Rogers Communications has withdrawn a controversial proposal that would have located a cell tower antenna in Port Coquitlam’s Greenmount Park after months of opposition from area residents.

The gallery at PoCo city hall erupted in applause after Mayor Greg Moore read a statement from Rogers during a council meeting Tuesday night. The company said after lengthy consultations with city officials and the community, it would be looking at other options for the placement of a cell tower.

“We certainly did not expect this,” Peter Endisch, one of the opponents of the cell tower, said in an email. “We were hoping for this but we did not expect this.”

During a public input session earlier this month, 22 people spoke out against the proposal. Many residents said they feared the tower would ruin the tree line view and could jeopardize the health of nearby residents.

Had the tower gone forward, it would have been located 120 m from Coquitlam River elementary school, well within the 305 m buffer set out by School District 43.

Sara Holland, the senior manager of regional communications with Rogers, told The Tri-City News opposition from the neighbourhood sunk the proposal.

“We are still committed to improving service,” she said, “we just didn’t have the support to move forward with this location.”

But Holland did not rule out the possibility of Rogers submitting a new proposal for a cell tower located in a different part of PoCo.

She said Rogers and city staff will continue to work to see what land is available for a future site.

 

Cell tower proposal likely wouldn’t have passed, says PoCo mayor

“I guess we have to regroup with the city and see what is available,” she said. “It’s about balancing the needs for the least impact on the community, so I think that is the next step.”

Throughout the process, both the company and the city have said the antenna complies with Industry Canada and Health Canada regulations limiting electromagnetic energy in the frequency range of 3 kHz to 300 gHz.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council voted to adopt a formal policy that would guide the city and the industry when future cell tower proposals come forward. Moore told The Tri-City News that public consultations would begin in order to develop the policy, which he said would clearly outline where cell towers could and could not be located.

Even if the application had not been withdrawn, Moore said he believes it is unlikely council would have supported Rogers’ proposal.

“I don’t think it would have [passed],” he said, adding that he would have voted against it. “That is probably why they pulled it.”

He also said that he was surprised at some of the accusations levelled at council during the application process and a recent public hearing. Several opponents of the tower said the city was being undemocratic in its handling of the antenna proposal and not listening to the will of the residents.

“I took real exception to that,” Moore said. “There are no guidelines for municipalities on how to deal with this. Right from day one, we put information on our website on how people could contribute to the process.”

If the cell tower had been built, PoCo would make $25,000 per year and $3,000 for each additional sublease, money that would be used for improving the nearby cemetery and other parks.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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