Town of Souris

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Souris residents surrounding the property where a proposed telecommunications tower could be erected are opposed to the plan and town council agrees.

“Residents just don’t want it,” Mayor Joanne Dunphy said at the regular town council meeting held on May 11.

“I don’t really blame them.

“I don’t think it is a spot where a tower should be going.”

Bell has submitted a proposal to put up a 30 metre tower on property they own on Sterns Avenue, behind a utility building.

“It is too close to the people’s houses,” Ms Dunphy added.

The proposal would have the tower approximately 20 metres from the nearest house, five metres from Spring Street and 25 metres from Sterns Avenue.

There were no specific measurements listed in the proposal mailed to area residents that show exactly how close the tower would be to adjacent properties.

In the town’s bylaws for commercial property that adjoins residential there has to be either a 15 foot area where there is nothing or they have to be able to put up some sort of barrier.

Radio installations are federally regulated and do not need to adhere to local zoning bylaw regulations.

However, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (SEDC, formally Industry Canada), does require public consultations.

The first proposal from Bell back in January was for a 20 metre tower that had a look of a “glorified post,” but the new tower is taller and has more infrastructure.

Bell responded to an inquiry from the Graphic with the following statement back in April, shortly after letters were sent to area residents. “We hope to accelerate this site in response to increased demand for (wireless data and voice communications services), which has further grown in the COVID-19 crisis. It would be located at the Bell office at 9 Stern Avenue, a central location in town that will provide optimum coverage for residents, businesses as well as Souris Hospital. We hope to begin construction following the public consultation on June 2, and could be online with the new tower in July.”

Bell’s decision to put the tower on Stern’s Avenue was made after three other sites, CN Park on the corner of Chapel and Pond Streets, a town lot on Anniversary Avenue and Souris Fire Department property on Main Street, proposed were considered inappropriate locations by the town.

Councillor Thelma MacDonald made a motion to send a letter to Bell saying thank you for considering upgrading, but we don’t want it where you propose to put it. The letter will also include suggested alternate sites yet to be determined by council, but possibly in the industrial park or food park.

The motion was passed unanimously by councillors Thelma MacDonald, Kenny Peters, Wanda Bailey, Ian MacDonald and Frankie Chaisson.

Councillor Boyd Leard declared a conflict at the beginning of the meeting and bowed out from tower discussions and the vote as he owns property in the proposal area.

The town, as well as area residents, have until June 2 to respond with their input.

Councillor Kenny Peters said he is hopeful SEDC would support a change in the site if the town was able to propose an alternative and everybody was “on the same page.”

“I think everybody would agree we want better service,” CAO Shelley LaVie said. “No one is going to argue with that aspect of it.”

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