By Marianne Curtis
The proposed construction of a communications tower at the Reynolds Community Club in Prawda is raising some concerns among residents.
Local resident Tanya Hall’s property borders the tower site on two sides. She is livid that the municipality is proceeding with a deal made with Telus Communications without any consultation with residents.
Telus has offered the Reynolds Community Club a $12,000 yearly contract to lease land and construct a new 70metre high tower to improve and extend wireless services in the area.
“We recognize cellular service along this corridor is particularly important for people living in the area and travellers and we are responding to increased demand,” stated Chris Gerritsen, manager of community engagement for Telus.
Meanwhile, Hall alleges Telus proceeded with the project without following protocol. According to Hall, Telus failed to inform the community on the impact the tower could have on the community. Under Industry Canada regulations applicants are required to consult with a municipality before proceeding and the local community is given an opportunity to speak on the matter. However, in this case, no public meeting was ever held.
“Land use altering decisions on a private community club property are a matter for the community as a whole to decide not the committee of the day or municipality,” stated Hall.
RM of Reynolds Reeve David Turchryn denies Halls accusations. He says that the municipality has no jurisdiction over the issue since the land belongs to the community centre, not the municipality.
“The municipality does not own the land,” stated Turchryn. “Council supports the deal as it will bring in much needed cash to the community club.” He added that council is considering splitting the revenue with the other three community clubs in the municipality – none of which are owned by the municipality.
“It could benefit all the clubs,” Turchryn says.
However, resident and former councillor Andy Pelletier does not understand how council can plans on splitting money that technically doesn’t belong to them.
“If the Prawda Community Club is not under RM control, which it isn’t, how is council going to distribute some of their earnings from the proposed deal with Telus amongst the other community clubs,” Pelletier asks. “They are under no obligation to share their revenue. Community clubs in Reynolds, unlike some other RMs, are not under municipal control.
So how can you say that the money they make off this deal will be distributed with the other clubs?”
When Telus first came to council several years ago to explain their expansion program the plan was to install five or six towers on unused municipal road allowances, creating a welcome revenue stream of $1000 monthly per tower for the RM.
Telus was not in favour of erecting towers on private property – it was the former reeve who asked the company to entertain the idea of erecting the towers on community club properties to help them, something that is only done in certain situations, Pelletier added.