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By Ruby Pratka

Local Journalism Initiative

A group of Bromont residents is petitioning the city and Videotron to walk back plans to build a new 45-metre-high cell tower in a residential area near the Le Parcours du Vieux-Village golf club. In the shadow of the tower, a 10-square-metre structure would be built to house telecommunications equipment.

Videotron has been in discussions with the city over the potential placement of a new tower since last fall, Mayor Louis Villeneuve told the BCN. The company “came to us and told us they were looking at different locations,” Villeneuve said. “We tried to help them find a better location, and we asked them to look elsewhere, like maybe in the belltower of the church, but that didn’t work out. We know they were talking with private landowners, but ideally, we’d like it to be on [city] land so we can have more control over its construction.”

Villeneuve said that since telecommunications are regulated by the federal government, the city has little or no control over whether or not a tower is built. “The MRC has made some rules on where cell towers can be built or not built, but in the end, it’s federal jurisdiction. If they can show the pertinence of installing a cell tower, there’s not much we can do. If we refuse, they’ll appeal to the federal government.”

Villeneuve added that he was “not surprised there are people who are unhappy.”

Environmental activist and landscape architect Michelle Champagne has spearheaded the petition against the cell tower, which has received about 300 signatures as of this writing. Champagne said she received a notification on her phone on Jan. 10 indicating that the city had posted a public notice that the tower would be built. She and two neighbours contacted their local councillor, Jacques Lapensée, who, she said, encouraged them to contact Videotron.

“We have a lot of questions,” Champagne said. “Videotron already has three towers here, Bell has one and Rogers has one. Videotron needs to look around and see if they can use other towers.”

Champagne said she and a growing number of her neighbours are worried about the effect the tower may have on the surrounding environment, the landscape, property values and their health. She is also concerned the company might not have carried out the necessary evaluations for the presence of endangered species or planned for the necessary shoreline buffer strip to prevent erosion. She is calling for the creation of a committee, composed of Lapensée, a city urban planning officer, a Videotron representative and four citizen representatives, to find an “acceptable alternative.”

“We don’t want to go to war with the city on this,” she added. “We just want to say that there have to be other options to put the tower further from our homes.”

“The choice of sites is always the subject of an in-depth analysis, depending…on the expected coverage and the needs of the clientele, in close collaboration with the authorities responsible for land use, and if appropriate, the public concerned,” Videotron said in a statement.

“Videotron's approach consists of identifying an existing compatible structure (tower, building roof, water tower, etc.) belonging to another telecommunications company, a public service operator, private owners or municipalities in order to avoid the proliferation of towers. … However, the use of existing structures is not always possible due to technical constraints. It is then necessary to proceed with the installation of new antenna structures. The location [of the tower], a wooded area located on City of Bromont property, was selected in close collaboration with the City of Bromont.”

A public consultation about the new tower will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 25 at the Centre communautaire de Bromont.

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