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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
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
“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