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Public outcry over proposed tower

Posted on May 15, 2014 by Westwind Weekly

A recent proposal for a 100-foot high cell tower, from Rogers Wireless to improve reception, has residents in Magrath taking to council chambers.

The proposal, which was submitted May 1 to the Town of Magrath, is for a 35-metrs cell tower, to be located in the back lot behind the Magrath Co-op. There are over 20 residents who would be directly affected by this placement, several of which made a presentation to council this past Tuesday evening.

“I got a letter in the mail proposing Rogers build a 35-metre cell phone tower, kind of in my backyard, where the empty lot for the co-op is on Civic Avenue,” explained home owner Dexter Vowels. “We would like to propose the tower move to another spot.”

Siting electromagnetic radiation exposure as the number one reason for opposition to the proposal, Vowels added Industry Canada doesn’t recognize this particular tower to give off that type of threat.

“I’ve looked at studies for and against whether or not there are detrimental health concerns associated with it, but studies have shown cell phone tower waves have been linked to radiation cancer and that’s the biggest concern for me,” he said. “The second is the decrease in property value. I’m lot 29-and a half, and they’re proposing it go in lot 29 – so that’s what I’m going to see when I look out my window.”

The suggestion of creating a landuse bylaw restricting cell towers in the Magrath area was also given, as well as ideas to keep towers in the industrial or light-industrial area, away from residents.

“When there’s one tower there might be more coming in and if we have these giant towers popping up in the community I think we need to have a little control over that,” he said.

Town staff advised residents that the present landuse bylaw doesn’t have any restrictions for cell towers, height or otherwise and added that towers are currently under a discretionary use.

“I know that the Town of Raymond restricts its tower size to 15 metres, so that’s maybe something we could look at as well,” Vowels said. “It’s the most densely populated area that they’re proposing and we think cell reception is pretty ok the way it is in Magrath right now. But if it moved two blocks north or south, it would be in a lot less dense an area and affecting less people.”

An open house was scheduled to take place in council chambers last night, between 5 and 7 p.m. Residents concerned with the proposal showed up to voice their issues, and ask any questions they had.

“I sit on the tourism committee and there is talk of revitalizing downtown into more of a nostalgic look, nothing has happened with it, but if that was to go ahead that tower right behind everything would be out of place. It would not fit into the feel and it wouldn’t be properly positioned,” said one of the affected residents Duane Thomson.

An application for the tower to be located behind the Magrath Co-op was submitted to the town’s Municipal Planning Commission and a public forum has been scheduled for May 28. Any residents who wish to contest the placement of the tower can do so by either writing council, or setting up an appointment to make a presentation in council.

The forum will be held in council chambers at 7 p.m. For more information on how to inform council of your position please contact the town office at 403-758-3212.

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