Thursday 25 August 2011

Public Consultation for a SSM- Airport Cell Site

Author's Update: I believe that in response to public feedback Bell is moving the proposed Nokomis Beach Road tower location to the area of the Pointe de Chênes campground. (26 Oct 11)
This is a follow-up to my blog of 14 Aug under the heading Is SSM-Airport Deferral Account a Go? concerning the public consultation for Bell Mobility (Bell) cell tower sites in the Sault Ste Marie area.
I attended the meeting held at the Water Tower Inn in the Sault on 24 Aug 11. Unlike the sparse attendance at the Bell public consultation for the Carpin Beach Rd site, nearly two dozen people were in attendance. The audience was a cross section of interested citizens and what I would refer to as resource personnel representatives such as a City Councillor, City Planning staff, Airport Management/Tech staff and personnel from the aviation sector.
Bell had three potential sites on the agenda for discussion – Algoma University Parking Lot, Old Garden River Road and Nokomis Beach Road.
No one in attendance expressed concerns about the first two sites. All of the open discussion centred on the Nokomis Beach site.
While the speakers declared a desire to obtain cellular and broadband (high speed) Internet service, they expressed concern about the actual site of the tower. I noted the following principal concerns as summarized below:
  1. A desire for more details about the site selection process, the consultation process and the timelines involved.
  2. An “industrial” structure located in a residential area and the potential for adverse impact on the aesthetics of the semi-rural residential area and the possible negative impact on real estate values;
  3. The possibility of light pollution if beacon lighting (White strobe or flashing red) became a requirement for the tower;
  4. The creation of another potential hazard to aviation in the area.
The Bell representative explained the rationale as to how and why the particular site was selected. Computer modelling and on the ground survey indicated the site offered the optimum location for area coverage and the prevention of spill over of the radio signal across the international border. He stated that Bell was no longer deploying wireline (DSL or Fibre to the Home) broadband (high speed) Internet service outside high density, major urban areas.
Some attendees suggested a number of alternate locations near the site area that they deemed to be more acceptable. Most involved the use of airport property either at ground level in the areas of the Nokomis Beach/Pointe de Chênes Road or use of the airport water tower as a support structure.
The Bell representative made arrangements to meet with the airport management to discuss possible airport locations later in the week before he returned to his office in Mississauga .
The Bell representative indicated his report to management will identify the concerns raised by the attendees. He will also meet with the network engineering staff to review the impact of using alternate locations identified as a result of his consultations . He indicated that at times the site selection and subsequent consultations becomes reiterative so the possibility of further meetings in still on the table.
No firm plans or dates for follow-up discussions were set.
The impact this need to reassess the site location will have on the roll-out of Deferral Account broadband (high speed) Internet in the SSM –Airport area is unknown at this time. The Bell representative did indicate that research for an another site to cover the Pointe Louise and the Pointe aux Pins areas was on going.
Readers interested in finding out more about the tower siting process regulations  and the public consultation process are referred to the Spectrum Branch of Industry Canada site .

1 comment:

  1. This is your typical "not in my back yard" argument you have every time someone proposes a change in Sault Ste. Marie. Whether it be a new road, business, building, parking lot, tower, etc. Let's just get on with it and start providing high speed service.