A Freedom Mobile representative told Penticton city council they are planning six cell sites here, including at least one tower. File photo

Freedom Mobile continues with expansion into Penticton

Council approved a letter of concurrence for the installation of a tower at 1953 Dartmouth Rd.

Freedom Mobile is continuing with its expansion into the region by installing a telecommunications tower at 1953 Dartmouth Rd.

Penticton city council heard a presentation from city staff and consultant Chad Marlatt during the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 22. Freedom Mobile is currently Canada’s fourth-largest mobile carrier and is expanding as part of the federal government’s initiative to provide more mobile options for customers by increasing competition in the market place.

“Freedom Mobile has a network in most major cities across Canada, and they are rapidly expanding across each other tier-two cities in each of the provinces,” said Marlatt. “Right now they’re launching in the Victoria market and the Island, and from basically Penticton up to Vernon. So they’re planning about 50 cell sites to service the market later this year.”

Marlatt said Freedom Mobile is planning six cell sites within Penticton in order to service the city “in a proper way,” five of which take advantage of building rooftops.

“This is just adding antennas to the mechanical penthouse of a building or elevator penthouse or something of that nature,” said Marlatt. “And this proposed site, at 1953 Dartmouth, is the only purpose-built structure that they need to complete their network.”

Marlatt said the address is an industrial property within an industrial area, which is typically where these structures are erected. He said the pole itself is “pretty basic.”

“It’s about the diameter of a wooden utility pole that you’d find out there. It will have a ladder going up the backside of it and it has antennas that are flush-mounted to the structure,” said Marlatt. “It’s not the typical type of cell tower you’d find out there, it’s not a large lattice steel tower, it’s quite small. It doesn’t need to be that big to service this particular area. There will be a couple of equipment cabinets at the base of it.”

Marlatt added that this installation will have to meet Health Canada’s guidelines, which all other carriers comply with as well. Because the City of Penticton does not have a consultation process, Industry Canada’s process was followed.

“We basically notified everybody within three times the tower height of the installation, they had 30 days to respond and there were no respondents to the proposal,” said Marlatt. “When it comes to following the federal guidelines, any installations on the roofs of structures or building are exempt from the consultation process. The federal government is really most concerned with the impact the structure has on the visibility or enjoyment of someone’s neighbouring property.”

Council also approved city staff to conduct research on how neighbouring municipalities approve telecommunications towers in order to bring forward a policy for future requests of this nature. City staff noted that the federal government has the power to grant permits for telecommunications towers that supersede provincial and local government authority.

“(After research) we will do a draft process and seek public consultation on this to ensure the process we are putting in place is supported by the public. Then we’d bring that to council for adoption,” said Blake Laven, planning manager for the city. “Once we have this set up, any future applications that come forward will follow this process.”

Coun. Watt had staff clarify that the $2,500 allotted for the public consultation budget accounts for staff time developing the policy, the consultation events and possibly a legal review. Laven said the cost recovery could be built into the end result of the process.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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