Kings council says no to proposed Eastlink cell tower in Ravenwood

Kirk Starratt
Published on March 21, 2016

The Kinner family – Tanya, Nathan, Alex, Richard and Kristin – enjoys an afternoon stroll in a wooded area they fear could soon be disturbed by the construction of a telecommunications tower that Eastlink proposed for a parcel of land near Ravenwood Subdivision.  

©Ashley Thompson

KINGSTON - Eastlink could still erect a cell tower in the Ravenwood subdivision area in Kingston but it likely won’t be on property owned by the County of Kings.

Warden Diana Brothers had the matter of a cell tower proposed for county-owned parkland in the subdivision added to the March 15 committee of the whole agenda. She handed the meeting over to Deputy Warden Brian Hirtle to get down from the chair and urge her colleagues not to lease the municipal land to Eastlink.

“I would challenge anyone that we don’t have jurisdiction now to say to the applicant we don’t want a cell tower on our property,” Brothers said.

Coun. Wayne Atwater, who represents the Ravenwood subdivision, said the anxiety in the community is going to get worse if the municipality continues on with the process.

“Vote no today and vote no at council and it’s over,” Atwater said.

Hirtle said all the motion does is ensure that the tower won’t be sited on county-owned property.

“I can’t help but think there will be a cell tower in this area at the end of the day,” he said.

Chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan said this is a “unique opportunity” for council to make a decision based on the merits of an application as the landowner. He said it might be useful to continue with the process with an open mind, consider everything and make a decision.

A public information meeting on the application was held in Kingston March 3. Coun. Jim Winsor suggested getting a copy of the petition against the tower that’s circulating in the community, have staff report to the planning advisory committee (PAC) on the application and “make a decision in the right manner.”

Coun. Kim MacQuarrie said she wants fair process for both the applicant and the community. She said she’d like to see the area councillor go back to the community to see if there is any compromise.

“I don’t think it would matter if there was gold on the tower, people don’t want it there in any way,” Atwater said.

MacEwan said final approval of cell tower sites is federal jurisdiction. The municipality has a setback requirement of twice the height of the tower from the nearest residence and requires that a public information meeting be held. This is the extent of limitations the municipality can impose.

MacEwan pointed out that the proposed Ravenwood tower would be two-and-a-half times as far from the nearest residence as required. He said they appreciate that no one wants a cell tower in their backyard but the other reality is that everyone wants cell and Internet service. If council says it’s not open to a lease, Eastlink will look at an alternative site.

“As long as the property owner is satisfied, we can’t say no,” MacEwan said.

Councillors voted in favour of the motion not to lease municipal land to Eastlink for a cell tower near Ravenwood. If council again votes not to lease the land to Eastlink at the April 5 session, the service provider will have to find another location.

Eastlink wants to work with community

Tanya Kinner, a Ravenwood resident representing those opposed to the tower, said it makes sense that council was supplied with a motion not to lease the land, given that so many residents are opposed.

“We are very grateful for the support of Diana Brothers and others who have helped this come to fruition,” Kinner said.

When it comes to the possibility of alternative locations, Kinner said she wouldn’t profess to understand the requirements Eastlink has to meet but she feels “fairly confident that they would be able to find a suitable location that is not in a residential area.”

Kinner said the Ravenwood subdivision has been “fairly united on this front” and she continues to get emails requesting an opportunity to sign a petition against the proposed tower.

Eastlink public and media relations spokeswoman Jill Laing said in an email that the Ravenwood site was a proposal only.

She said the company takes community input and feedback very seriously and would continue to work with the municipality and community on next steps, including possible alternate locations, if council votes again votes against the proposal in April.

“Eastlink works very hard to find wireless site locations that minimize impact to the community while meeting the ever-increasing cellular needs of customers,” Laing said.

Quick facts

-       The proposed cell tower site is on county-owned green space in the Ravenwood subdivision, near two baseball fields.

-       Approximately 200 people had signed the citizen petition against the proposed tower as of March 18.

-       The Kingston Village Commission voted unanimously March 10 to write a letter to Kings County council supporting the citizen-led petition.