Updated: Oct 19, 2019
HUNTSVILLE - A proposed 60 meter tri-pole Rogers cell tower is not what some Huntsville residents want to see in their backyard.
Tom Stehr is the owner of Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm on Muskoka Road 10, the proposed tower is a 1 minute walk from his property.
Stehr said he received a letter from Rogers in September with a notice about the tower and an invite to a public meeting in early October. He attended the meeting and voiced his concerns and opposition to the location of the tower. Since then he has spent close to $1000 on signs to protest the proposed build.
“For me it’s a health concern, it’s unsightly and it’s going to be a big tower,” he said.
The proposed tower would be located near 2389 Muskoka Road 10 just off the road. That property belongs to the Muskoka Bible Centre. In a written statement the Centre said that it was approached by Rogers about building a cell tower on their property.
“MBC recognizes that cell coverage along the Muskoka 10 corridor is very poor, and in many pockets, non-existent. As well, there are few if any internet options available to residents, cottagers and MBC guests. Cable or phone line based internet options are not available in the area, and satellite service is often blocked by tree cover. Cell network based internet appears to be the best available option.”
The statement goes on to indicate that cell service is particularly important for the 285 sites at the MBC campground.
The Centre also addressed the health concerns brought up by neighbours.
“Regarding the potential health concerns associated with cell towers, we look to research from reputable sources such as the Canadian Cancer Society, American Cancer Society and Health Canada who all seem to conclude that radio frequency signals are safe. There are 15,000+ cell towers and 24 million+ cell phones in Canada - so there has been ample opportunity to research the health implications.”
Stehr, however, is not convinced.
“There is no definitive research that this type of tower is risk free. There are studies done in France and Germany that there are issues with animals and there is an effect ... I don’t want to be a guinea pig,” he said.
“I’m not against cell phones, I just don’t want to have it in my face.”
Stehr’s neighbour Jody Graham agrees and is not just worried about his kids and potential health concerns which might be associated with a cell tower. Graham is also concerned about his real state value as the tower will be visible from his property.
“They sent a picture in the mail but it’s way off because it’s going to be right across from my house .... I have two kids, and our neighbours have kids and I don’t know anything about 5G and it’s an eye sore as well,” said Graham.
Another one of Tom’s neighbours who would rather stay anonymous said he never received a letter notifying him of the proposed tower.
“Not many people received the letters because there is a certain distance that you have to be within to the actual base of the tower .... but I’m going to see it from my backyard,” he said.
Rogers sent letters to residents who live within 360 meters of the proposed site.
Another concern is the possibility of lights on the tower.
“We are on the hospital helicopter route which means it would have to have lights,” said Graham.
Both Stehr and Graham would like to see the tower re-located away from Muskoka Road 10 and the residential area which surrounds the current proposed site.
“There are other places to build it with less houses around,” said Graham.
“That property has 240 acres so lots of area that they could build it, but it’s going to be very close to Muskoka Road 10 and obviously us at this point,” Stehr said.
Stehr said he has made his concern known with the Rogers representatives as well as with the Muskoka Bible School.
Zac Carreiro, Rogers spokesperson, sent Muskoka Post the following written statement regarding the company’s proposed tower site.
“We are exploring opportunities to enhance our wireless network along Muskoka Road 10 for residents and visitors. Based on feedback from the community, we are continuing to look for a site that meets the local needs.”
Stehr noted that he was offered the same deal by Rogers on his property a year ago and refused it.
Huntsville councillor Tim Withey attended the Rogers public meeting.
“These cell phone companies can be bully’s about their tower placements. We all recognize the need for towers but they insist on placing them in full sight of everyone,” he said. “They had a photo at the meeting showing what the new tower would look like from afar and it sticks out like a sore thumb ... there was discussion about moving it further out of site inland.”
The application has not yet been presented in front of Huntsville council and Withey is not sure when that will occur.
Stehr for his part has already sent in a letter of opposition to the town and plans on a deputation when and if necessary.