EDMONTON – A new 45-metre tall cellphone tower, which was erected in Edmonton’s Ambleside neighbourhood, has frustrated several residents. They say they were not made aware of plans for the tower before they moved to the area.
“That was a complete shock,” said Max Pasqual, who lives down the block from the tower.
Pasqual says he did his research on the neighbourhood before he moved his family there in March 2011.
“We knew what was kind of going on with the movie theatre, Walmart, and Cabela’s. We knew that was coming and this is the perfect community to live in because everything is so close.
“I honestly don’t recall ever anybody mentioning about this 45-metre cell tower.”
The tower, which is the property of Rogers, went up last week on land leased by a local church.
In a statement to Global News, Rogers says it looks for sites “that have the least impact on communities while still meeting the technological requirements for the tower.
The statement goes on to say public consultation and an open house were held on this cellphone tower in January 2011.
“We also sent notifications to local residents, as well as the local councillor, the Ambleside Community League, the local MP, and the City of Edmonton Planning Department,” the statement read.
However, residents in the fairly new community say many of them did not live in the area at the time of the consultation.
“How can you go through the process when there’s only two people around?” Pasqual questioned. “For something like that you definitely want to be involved.”
When it comes to the location of cellphone towers, the City of Edmonton says it can provide an opinion on where they will be constructed, but it cannot prevent one from being built.
“The decision to allow a cell tower to be built is entirely under the discretion of Industry Canada,” said Scott Mackie, manager of the City’s Current Planning Branch.
When it comes to this particular tower, Mackie says the City issued a letter recommending it be built in this location. However, that was under an old policy.
“Since that time, though, our policy has been significantly altered and we have much higher standards with respect of what we’re looking for when it comes to things such as design and location for these towers. For example, they’re discouraged in residential areas at all.”
Mackie says the policy is being looked at further, to determine whether or not to include approved cellphone towers in statutory plans, so they’re more easily accessible to residents.
In the meantime, Ambleside residents say they’ll have to put up with the eyesore, but worry what it will mean when it comes time to move out.
“What are people going to think when I put (up) a for sale sign, they come and look at my house, ‘oh the house looks pretty’ and they turn around and they look at this thing,” Pasqual wondered. “It’s ugly. It’s really ugly.”
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.