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Council support for proposed cell tower

Posted on June 29, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Coalhurst town council will be issuing a letter of concurrence for a proposed cell tower on 1 Street.

Rogers Communications wants to build a 41-metre self-support cell tower at 5300 1 Street in Coalhurst. The property is privately owned, and they entered into a lease agreement with the property owner.

Schedule 8 – Telecommunications Antenna Siting Protocol – of the Town’s Land Use Bylaw dictates the procedure for the installation and modification of telecommunication, radio communication and broadcasting antenna systems within the town’s boundaries. Approval for the installation, as per the Radio Communication Act, will be from the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

Previously, during their regular March 21 meeting, council had passed a motion to instruct the CAO to request Rogers hold an open house regarding the cell tower installation at 5300 1 Street in Coalhurst. An open house was held on May 8 at the Coalhurst Community Centre. Additionally, the 30-day consultation process was concluded on May 12.

During the consultation process, a total of eleven community members provided written comments expressing concerns with regard to the proposal, mainly relating to the health and safety of the facility, the location of the tower in a residential neighbourhood and its effect on property values and the community in general.     

The parcel where the property is located is in a mixed-use area with residential development on the east side and non-residential development on the west side of 1 Street. The property in question is zoned as Business Industrial (BI) and is located on the west side of the community next to the active CPR track. The proposed tower location by the western property boundary, and the lots north and south of the parcel are developed for commercial uses.

Now that the consultation process is over, Rogers requested a concurrence for the tower proposal at council’s regular June 20 meeting.

Coun. Deborah Florence raised concern about cybersecurity, citing a policy statement she read from ISED on telecommunication providers and 5G networks and safeguarding the Canadian telecommunications system. Justin Rockafellow, a representative of Rogers, said that whether the equipment was 5G or not, any existing infrastructure can be upgraded in the next year or so.

“There is an effort now to move equipment from Huawei,” said Rockafellow, adding that Telus for example had spent the last year and a half replacing their equipment from Huawei to those standards, to which Rogers would build the tower to. “That sort of equipment won’t be installed.”

Coun. Jesse Potrie asked what the process was as to what sites are selected for towers. Rockafellow said there were a lot of moving parts, but one thing was that Coalhurst was an “enterprising area” for increased coverage from Rogers.

“A larger reason for that is driven (by), as we know, is more devices are being used, more people are moving to areas like this, more pull on the local bandwidth that’s existing. So more infrastructure is required.”

While the ideal location would be in the middle of town, with the schools, community and residential properties it couldn’t go there. It was pushed to a more commercial area, and then they had to find a landowner that would work with them. The site they selected is in a commercial area, is by the railway tracks, in the backdrop with things like grain elevators and in a place where it would allow for appropriate coverage throughout all of town.

Coun. Scott Akkermans asked if coverage would be affected by the town growing in one direction. Rockafellow said that it currently would cover the entire town plus a bit to the south with high quality coverage. However, the more users are in front, the more the signal would dissipate as you move further away. He doesn’t expect the town to need another tower unless it triples in the next couple of years.

Florence asked what would happen if they issued a letter of non-concurrence. Rockafellow said there was no definitive answer, and while they would like to get community’s approval first, there are pathways through ISED where it could still be approved.

Council passed a motion providing municipal concurrence for the installation of a 41 m self-supporting telecommunications tower proposed by Rogers Telecommunications located at 5300 1 Street for the following reasons and subject to the following conditions:


• The Federal Government has jurisdiction over the approval and safety of the telecommunication industry regarding the health and safety of facilities, equipment and technology and the Town’s role is to ensure the location and construction of new tower installations are in the most appropriate location within the community.

• The subject parcel is zoned for non-residential use and is located adjacent to the CPR tracks and Highway 3 along a development street for commercial / light industrial uses. The tower location on the parcel is as far as possible from existing residential development located on 1st Street.


• The applicant is responsible for obtaining all applicable safety code permits (building, gas, electrical & plumbing) prior to commencement.

• The applicant must contact Utility Safety Partners (1-800-242-3447) to locate existing utility lines prior to commencement.

• The applicant is responsible for complying with all Provincial and Federal regulations, approvals, and authorizations and obtaining all applicable permits with copies being provided to the Town of Coalhurst.

• All marking of the tower and other requirements must be consistent with Navigation Canada and Transport Canada.

• The bottom of the tower shall be enclosed to a minimum height of 8 feet.

• The applicant is responsible for reporting the location of the communication tower to the Alberta Aerial Applicators Association.

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