Along with about 20 responses from businesses, Okanagan College and individuals in Salmon Arm’s industrial park, city council added its unanimous initial support to a plan from Telus to install a 60-metre cellular tower.
The tower, to be located at 4310 45th St. SE in the industrial park, is on a parcel designated general industrial in the official community plan and zoned M1, general industrial.
In accordance with federal government rules, the proponent must consult with the city before installing the tower.
City staff and council both noted at the city’s June 7 development and planning meeting that lack of reliable wireless service has been a longstanding complaint for businesses in the industrial park. Staff said Telus has been looking for a location for about a year and this one is outside the airport approach corridor.
Chad Marlatt of Cypress Land Services, which is acting as agent for Telus, said the location is the best service in the area.
“We ended up going here because its kind of more in the middle of the (industrial) park and services will extend beyond the business park here. But it’s in the middle of the business park so the tower is utilized at 360 degrees. When the tower operates it shoots out radio waves in all directions so if you’re in the middle of the area it will work better.”
He said the company did its consulation earlier in the year, “which was quite positive, which is not always the case, so we were pleasantly surprised with that.”
Marlatt said Telus feels it can have the tower installed by the end of the year, adding it will depend on factors such as budgets.
Asked by council how far the service will extend – with Coun. Sylvia Lindgren referring to Ranchero school – Marlatt said service would improve there as the tower would send signals at least two to three kilometres in all directions.
He said the tower might have to be powered down in some directions so as not to interfere with other towers. Marlatt told council he believes Rogers has expressed an interest in using the Telus installation.
Coun. Chad Eliason said council has been working on this for a long time on behalf of local businesses and asked if tower completion could be speeded up.
Marlatt said the proposal goes into Telus’ bid program and a budget gets attached.
“The key is to get it in this year’s budget… It’s kind of on the brink at this point,” he said.
Council will send a letter of support for expediting the process to a local Telus rep, but city staff said it’s unknown whether that will help.
Mayor Alan Harrison expressed his thanks to Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, and the economic development society and manager Lana Fitt for getting the plans to this stage.
An official council motion and the staff recommendation will be considered at council’s June 14 meeting. Harrison said he would make an opportunity for anyone who wishes to speak when the item comes up, probably between 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.