Willow Point residents can expect improvements to spotty cell phone coverage within the next few months following council approval of a Telus tower near the Sportsplex.
On Tuesday night, city council gave the go ahead to a 30-meter free-standing monopole at the back of Willow Point Park, just north of Parkway Road, despite objections from one councillor.
Coun. Larry Samson said he worries the tower will ruin the park.
“I have a concern about the commercialization of our parks and once we open that door, where do we stop,” Samson said.
Though Telus said it will provide an open consultation period, Samson noted public feedback will not be accepted until after a lease agreement with the city has been finalized, which Samson said does not allow for sufficient time for the public to voice its concerns. But 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 told council.
Telus has been working with the city for months to find a suitable location for the pole. City staff suggested the site off to the side of the baseball diamond and all-weather field, near the back nine of the disc golf course, because it’s tucked away in the trees. The spot is currently used to stock a high pile of cedar chip and is 95 metres from the nearest house on Parkway Road.
Warren Kalyn, the city’s manager of information services, said the city will benefit from yearly revenue from Telus to lease the property. Samson though wasn’t convinced just Telus will use the tower.
“While it’s only Telus today, in my opinion they will be leasing it out to tenants on that site to increase their revenue to pay for that site,” he said. “So it may be Telus but down the road – five, 10, 15 years – we will see more users on that site.”
Coun. Andy Adams said he didn’t have an issue with the proposal and was pleased to see it come to the table.
“What has been demonstrated by the proponent is that it will have no adverse impact either visually or aesthetically on the park,” Adams said. “If anything it is providing a new revenue stream that may enhance our parks. In addition it’s improving a communication service for the residents in our community.”