A cell tower could be installed close to Beban Park if a major telecommunications company has its way.
Nanaimo city councillors, during a regular council meeting on Dec. 16, voted 8-1 in favour of allowing a proposed Rogers Communications telecommunications tower and small compound at 2250 McGarrigle Rd. to move forward in the approval process. The McGarrigle Road property is within a kilometre from the Nanaimo Golf Club and Merle Logan Field.
City staff will now write what is essentially a letter of approval or support – known as a letter of concurrence – to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, which handles the administrative procedures for telecommunications equipment in the country.
No construction timeline for the tower was provided. According to a staff report, the tower would be 20 metres in height while the base of the tower would be surrounded by a small black chain-link fenced compound. There would also be three concrete “bollards” installed in order to protect the compound area.
Rogers believes there isn’t “dependable service” in the area around McGarrigle Road, according to the report, which states that the proposed tower would provide high-speed, high-bandwidth cellular service and would “improve personal safety” because the “majority of emergency calls” are made using wireless devices.
Nanaimo does not have an “established siting protocol or public consultation process” for telecommunications facilities and the city does not require a development permit for the proposed tower or compound, the report also notes.
Jeremy Holm, the city’s director of development approvals, told councillors during Monday’s meeting that the tower would visually have little impact on the neighbourhood and that there were no comments during the public consultation period.
Rogers’ public consultation, according to the staff report, happened in September and October.
The McGarrigle Road property is currently zoned light industrial, which permits a telecommunications tower according to Holm, who told councillors that Rogers is following the federal government’s process and that process requires a letter of concurrence from the city.
“If [Rogers] receive concurrence from a local government, it speeds up the process. It gives the proponent the assurance that they need to move ahead,” Holm said. “If concurrence isn’t granted, either there is non-concurrence or no comment, it can slow the process down for the proponent quite a bit.”
Holm said if council didn’t provide concurrence, Rogers would be required to go through an “additional” consultation process.
In response to a question from Coun. Ben Geselbracht regarding the process and the public consultation process, Holm said there were no concerns raised by nearby residents.
“There was, I think, zero comments, one inquiry,” he said. “As far as a cell tower location, industrial area, the view implications are quite minimal. It’s a good site if it provides the coverage Rogers needs, which they have identified that it does.”
Geselbracht was the only councillor who voted against issuing a letter of concurrence.