Bell Mobility likely to scrap controversial cell tower

Bell Mobility officials say they may abandon a plan to erect a cellphone tower in a residential area of west end St. John's.

Plan would put structure in middle of residential area, close to senior's home and school

This is the area in the west end of St. John's where Bell Mobility has been proposing to place a cell phone tower site. (CBC)

Bell Mobility says it will likely scrap its plans to erect a controversial cellphone tower in a residential area of west end St. John's.

The company has wanted to put an-almost 15-metre structure in the middle of a residential area, approximately 90 metres from St. Mary's Elementary School, and near a senior's home.

But at a public meeting at St. John's City Hall on Tuesday night, company officials said they are looking at another, more remote site.

Bell Mobility says while the plan to erect a cell tower in west end St. John's may be abandoned, the company believes each proposal should be assessed separately. (CBC)

The city wants to impose a buffer zone of 200 metres between the tower and schools or homes.

Bell Mobility's Paul Greene said while the west end plan may be abandoned, he said each proposal should be assessed separately.

"We think that rather than establish a setback of, for example, the 200-metre setback that has been established that the city should look at each site and consider that every site is unique," said Greene. 

Bell added that a 200-metre buffer would make it impossible to build a world-class network.

Patricia Walsh-Warren. (CBC)

Area residents learned of Bell's plan through a notice in a newspaper during the summer. 

Since that time, concerned citizens have rallied by holding meetings and protests again the tower. They said they fear the radio waves a tower would emit may be dangerous.

Homeowner Patricia Walsh-Warren hopes the city sticks to its guns.

"The city has proposed a 200-metre setback and I hope that they are able to stand firm on that," said Walsh-Warren. "The unknown effects just doesn't allow for it to be any closer." 

"I certainly don't want my children in 40 or 50 years time to be reaping the reward, or the ill-rewards, of these cell towers"

The final decision on the cell tower location is up to federal officials with Industry Canada, but Greene said Bell Mobility will take any protocols established by the city very seriously.

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