Manor Park church turns down cellphone tower offer
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Apr 14, 2011  |  Vote 0    0

Manor Park church turns down cellphone tower offer

Ottawa East News

The Church of St. Columba won’t be adding a cell phone tower to its adornments anytime soon, despite the extra income it could have provided.

The Manor Park curch was approached by Rogers to place a cell phone tower on their property. The tower came with a lease fee of $5,000 a year to the church. Before making their decision on the matter, the church held an information session on April 5 at the church and invited the community to ask how they felt. When the general consensus was a resounding no, the church decided to decline the offer.

“We listened to what the neighbourhood said and it was clear they did not want to have a cell tower in their neighbourhood,” church warden, Christopher Chance said.

The announcement was made on Sunday, April 10 during service.

“We heard you loud and clear,” Chance said.

The Church of St. Columba was built in the early 1960s on the outskirts of Manor Park on Sandridge Road and has had a steady following of parishioners throughout the years. Rev. Jim Beall said there has been a decline in recent years and the lucrative deal from Rogers could have helped with some costs. However the church did not want to make any decision without being a good neighbour and hearing the community’s concerns on the matter.

Almost 80 people came to the information session, more than Beall typically sees on a Sunday. It seemed everyone was opposed to the idea.

“Everyone seemed to have worries about health issues,” Beall said.

He noted that almost everyone who came to the meeting admitted to having a cell phone on them.

Chance gave the presentation as the church did not invite Rogers to the meeting.

“The consensus was not to have it for sure,” Beall said. “For us, it was clear; the only advantage would be financial.”

The contract Rogers would have offered would have been a 20 year lease, Beall explained and even if the community approved, the church would have to go through the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa for the final approval.

For Beall, he only hoped the information session would draw some new faces for Sunday’s service.

“I think personally, we will benefit more as a strong Christian parish than we would with $5,000,” he said.

Although the church has declined to have the tower put in, it does not stop a tower from going in someone else’s backyard. And there is no law saying a private land owner would have to show the same courtesy as the church did.

“Rogers said they need a tower in the neighbourhood to continue to provide reliable service,” Beall said.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association’s Marc Choma said the demand for reliable service is a constant issue with wireless carriers.

The association does work for any wireless industry but is a liaison between the wireless industries and the government and aims to provide information to the public on issues concerning cell phone towers.

A need for an antenna or cell tower in any neighbourhood, Choma explained, would be in response to a community’s demand for better wireless service and local carriers.

According to the association, more than 23 million Canadians have a cell phone or wireless device with indications that the demand will continue to grow. It noted that the United Kingdom has a much smaller land mass than Canada and they have 35,000 sites compared with less than 8,000 in Canada.

“There are close to 8,000 wireless antenna sites across Canada and the relatively small number has to do with good planning,” Choma said
Choma also noted the need has become greater in recent years, as smart phones such as Blackberry’s require improved wireless coverage for better access to the Internet.
“It is based on customer demand. They (wireless carriers) have to build it where the customers need it.” Choma said.

Choma added that that whether you have a cell phone in your pocket, a data stick for the Internet in the park or a cell phone tower on top of an office building downtown, there are strict standards the industry must adhere to. When it comes to the cell tower Rogers wanted to place at the church, Choma said it could have been no larger than a street light and would not pose a risk to anyone in the neighbourhood.
“All wireless carriers have to adhere to safety standards... and Health Canada and the wireless industry take those standards very seriously,” Choma said.

When it comes to the issue of having happy neighbours or money for the church, Chance said it is most important that Manor Park residents are content.

Ottawa this Week - east edition

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