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35-meter tall cell phone tower proposed for Montreal’s West Island park

Click to play video: 'West Island communications tower cause for concern among residents'
West Island communications tower cause for concern among residents
WATCH: A West Island park may soon be home to a gigantic new cell phone tower. The borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro has been in months of talks with Videotron. The company wants to improve its service in the area and needs to build an imposing structure to do so. But some Roxboro residents think a park with a playground and a soccer field is just not the right spot. Global's Dan Spector reports. – Nov 25, 2022

A West Island park may soon be home to a gigantic new cell phone tower. The borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro has been in talks with Videotron for months, as the company works to improve its service in the area.

When longtime Roxboro resident Marc Bisaillon was walking through Victor-P-Gray Park last week, he was alarmed to see a sign alerting the public to a Dec. 5 council vote on whether or not to allow the company to erect the tower on the city-owned space.

“I’m really shocked, to be frank,” Bisaillon told Global News. “This kind of thing is, frankly, from a public interest perspective unacceptable.”

Videotron wants to build a cell phone tower in the park about as tall as an eight-storey building.

“It’s a tower of 35 metres and the 35 metres of course will be visible,” Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis explained.

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Beis says originally, Videotron wanted to build the tower right next to the Roxboro United Church a few blocks away.

READ MORE: Proposed SaskTel cell tower facing local pushback

There was opposition from residents, including a Facebook page and a petition.

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After months of discussions with Videotron, this corner of the park adjacent to a car dealership and a cemetery became the location of choice.

“After we looked at some of the computer images of how that tower would look in that area, we found that it would cause the least impact visibly to any neighbouring residents,” said Beis.

Bisaillon is worried about adding an eyesore to the visual landscape.

“Everybody makes use of cell phones, but, why disfigure public beauty?” Bisaillon wonders, saying he wishes the tower could be built elsewhere.

Being right next to a kids’ soccer field, he also worries about the health effects.

“I wouldn’t take chances with children,” he said.

READ MORE: Videotron founder and Quebec philanthropist André Chagnon has died

“I’m not a scientist or an expert in the field,” said Beis. “I have to go by what Health Canada tells us.”

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Health Canada tells Global News there is no scientific proof towers cause health problems.

“Based on the available scientific evidence, there are no health risks from exposure to the low levels of radiofrequency EMF which people are exposed to from cell phones, cell phone towers, antennas and 5G devices,” the organization said in an email. “At this time, scientific evidence does not support a link between cancer and exposure to radiofrequency EMF at the levels permitted by Canadian exposure guidelines.”

Videotron said the new structure will be a key cog in the company’s improved network and will adhere to Health Canada safety standards.

“Videotron certifies that, in the interest of public safety, the proposed facilities will be built and operated at all times in accordance with Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 and any future amendments, including the consideration of combined effects within the local radio environment. Videotron is working with the Borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro to minimise the impact on the immediate environment,” Videotron said in an email.

Another resident we spoke to who did not want to appear on camera said she thinks building a cellphone tower there is a great idea. She said she barely gets service in her own house and that the park is empty the vast majority of the time.

Beis says if council approves the project on Dec. 5, Videotron will need to hold a public meeting to answer residents’ questions. Residents are invited to give their opinions at the Pierrefonds-Roxboro council meeting on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

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