Pilots concerned over tower location
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
Staff Two citizens addressed South Glengarry council last week regarding their concerns about the location of a proposed Rogers cellphone tower near the Cornwall Regional Airport in Summerstown.
Long-time St. Andrews West resident Earle DePass, a civil aviation safety inspector with Transport Canada and an avid pilot, spoke “on behalf of a larger group of 25 pilots (the Cornwall Flying Club)” who use the local airport frequently.
“I’m here to try to convince you to move the proposed tower farther away than it’s proposed to be because it causes a great safety concern. We’re hopeful that you’ll agree to that,” said Mr. DePass before turning the microphone over to Jean-Claude (J.C.) Audet.
Mr. Audet is the director of operations for the Ottawa-based Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), a retired 20-year veteran of the Canadian Air Force and a fellow aviator.
“I have a cellphone. We all do, and we all need them...but this is not a safe situation,” said Mr. Audet. “The tower is way too close to the airport. It creates a lot of risks for pilots.”
Last June, council approved a request from Rogers Communications to lease an approximately 675-square-metre piece of property near Highway 401 and Fraser Road in Summerstown – close to the airport – on which Rogers plans to erect a 68-metre tower.
A staff report prepared by township general manager of infrastructure services Ewen MacDonald for the June 18, 2018 regular council meeting states that the structure “would provide enhanced high speed wireless telecommunications coverage in an area that is otherwise currently underserved.”
Mr. MacDonald added that “initially, the proposed tower was too high and had to be lowered to meet the federal transportation requirements to protect the airport users,” following a recommendation by the consultant who reviewed the tower project for Rogers.
Mr. Audet, who told council last week that he has successfully dealt with about half a dozen similar cellphone tower-related issues in Southern Ontario over the past year, explained that the lease agreement between the township and the communciations giant does not prevent the tower from being relocated.
“In all the cases that we (COPA) reviewed, the supposed contract had been signed,” he said.
“But we’ve always managed to get the tower moved and there was never an issue about contracts...Rogers, or Bell, or whoever it is...They will not proceed if you (the municipality) are going to turn them down. “It’s time and money.” Following their presentation, Mayor Frank Prevost told Messrs. Audet and DePass that the township has “been dealing with Rogers and everyone else over the last two weeks,” and that there “has been a lot of communication back and forth.”
He added that Mr. MacDonald is expected to bring back a report to council on the matter next month.