Residents oppose tower site
Black Diamond: Public meeting reveals little support
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 08:23 am
Despite opposition from residents, a site north of Black Diamond is the most likely option to receive approval for the installation of four radio towers.
Touch Broadcasting Canada purchased a quarter section of land one kilometre north of Black Diamond in what is its third attempt to install radio towers to broadcast a Calgary AM Christian radio station.
The company received strong opposition from residents and the MD of Foothills for a site south of town along the Cowboy Trail about five years ago due to its impact on the landscape and a second option northeast of town near the Cu Nim Gliding Club last year because of safety.
The MD of Foothills was asked by the federal government to find a more appropriate location for the 104.5-metre tall towers.
Once it purchased the land, the company mailed 52 packages outlining its plans to residents in the area and held a public consultation meeting in Turner Valley last week with about half a dozen residents in attendance.
Among them was Brian Graf, who lives less than a kilometre east of the proposed site.
Graf expressed concerns about the danger posed to birds flying into the towers and supporting guy wires, land values dropping, radiation levels and thieves who might want to steal copper the company will use to support the towers.
Graf said he is frustrated the MD suggested the site, especially after residents are enduring the unsightliness and increased traffic with a gravel pit in the area.
“If the other people don’t want to look at them why do we have to?” he said. “It’s craziness that they are doing this. It’s like we are second class citizens in this area.”
Shanon Maksymich attended the meeting with her family to learn about the dangers of radiation and was told the company will get back to her with levels for her home about a mile south of the towers.
“I’m okay with it as long as the radiation levels aren’t harmful, they don’t make a mess and they put things back the way they were minus what they need,” she said.
Technical consultant Kerry Pelser, with D.E.M. Allen & Associates in Winnipeg, said the towers will be secured with fencing and signage and Health Canada deems the area beyond 70 feet from the towers safe for residents.
Touch Broadcasting general manager Darcy Hnatiuk showed residents pictures of what the towers would look like and told them the company is proposing rotating beacons that will give off 32 watts in the day and nine at night, pointing upwards to reduce light pollution.
He said they proposed one light for the four towers to Transport Canada, but it was denied for safety reasons.
Hnatiuk said the company received verbal approval for the project by Transport Canada, with regards to the lighting, and are still waiting to hear back from Nav Canada to ensure the towers won’t impact air traffic.
Hnatiuk said he considers the location the best of the three considering the region already has a scar with the gravel pit to the east of the property.
Judy Yates, who attended the meeting with husband Hank, said she isn’t too worried about the project.
“We are both okay with it happening, as long as there’s not too much influence with the land or environment,” she said. “It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be very intrusive.”
Yates said her only concern is possible light pollution.
Shine Calgary station manager Mark Imback visited nine residents in the area in October and said although most weren’t happy about the towers, he feels this site is the best of the three.
“My heart goes out to these people,” he said. “Is this what I would like to have in the back of my place? I wouldn’t like it but it’s a part of society today.”
Imback said it could be worse.
“I would rather have that than a bunch of steel buildings and noise,” he said. “At least we are saving a quarter section from that happening.”
MD of Foothills development officer Heather McInnes said the next step is taking the information from the meeting to council who will decide to either give a letter of support or not support for the company’s proposal to Industry Canada. The MD has little say in whether or not the proposal is approved, Industry Canada makes that decision.
“The other two sites are still open,” she said. “(Industry Canada) will probably pick the lesser of the three evils.”
McInnes said concerns brought up by residents were addressed by various levels of government: Transport Canada approved the lights, Health Canada the radiation levels and Industry Canada the visibility issues. That, and the low attendance at the meeting, will likely make this option the best of the three, she said.
MD Division 3 Coun. Jason Parker said he is concerned about the long-term effects of radiation exposure.
“I have a lot of health background,” he said. “I like to go beyond Health Canada’s regulations.”
Parker said he will represent residents’ concerns when it comes time to vote at council, likely early in the new year.
“It’s already been turned down in two other locations,” he said. “It’s something people don’t want to have. They feel as if it’s being forced upon them.”
Hnatiuk said if the appropriate levels of government approve the project the towers could be built in the spring and operating before the end of the summer.