Spotty cell phone coverage in the Willow Point area should improve within the next few months after council agreed in principle to a communications tower in Willow Point Park.
Telus has plans to install a 30-metre free standing monopole in the southeast corner of Willow Point Park, near the bocce ball court and all-weather baseball field. The site is currently used for stock piling cedar chips.
Warren Kalyn, the city’s manager of information services, said the tower is 95 meters away from the closest residence and 220 metres away from the new splash park.
He said blueprints for the pole show minor construction.
“It has a small outbuilding that will house Telus communications equipment…it has existing hydro at the site and has interior fencing as well as exterior fencing,” Kalyn said.
The pole will be tucked away in a cove of trees so that it’s visibly well-hidden and painted to have it blend in with the nearby coniferous trees.
Council agreed to authorize Telus to go ahead with the tower pending a public consultation period, which is mandated by Industry Canada and may take up to three months.
Coun. Larry Samson said he’s hesitant to proceed with the tower and wants to ensure the public has all the information.
“I would like Telus to be obligated to hold an open house as part of the public consultation,” Samson said. “I believe strongly they should have an open house and let the public come and view exactly what this tower’s going to look like.”
Kalyn said Telus has agreed “to meet Industry Canada regulations and requirements and “the open house requirement is part of that.”
Telus is expected to begin advertising its proposal through the local media later this month and the public will have 30 days to raise any questions or concerns with Telus either by phone or in writing.
Telus then has 60 days to respond and after that the public has 20 days to respond back.
Following the consultation, Telus would take all the information gathered through the public consultation period and present that to city council, expected to be around May 30.
Council then can either approve or deny the tower.
The city would receive $15,000 per year from Telus annually in licensing fees.
The agreement would be good for five years with three consecutive automatic five-year extensions and the license fee would be adjusted at the end of each five-year term to reflect increases in the Canadian Consumer Price Index.
Brent Shannon, who spoke on behalf of Telus to council in August, said he believes people will be pleased with the tower.
“In an area where the current cellular coverage is very poor – we get a lot of complaints – the feedback is that it will be an improvement to the area,” Shannon said.