Regina city council discusses 5G cell towers, catalyst committee, backing Brier bid
A set of guidelines to help determine where new cell towers can be built in Regina is being sent back to city administration for further changes.
Regina city council voted to table the antenna system protocol, which would outline the city’s preferred location and design standards for proposed cell towers as well as expectations for public consultation.
According to city administration, it is a “timely” protocol as antenna system applications have increased due to new, advance technology being introduced.
In a unanimous vote, councillors decided to ask administration to improve the language in the protocols, add ward councillors, MLAs and MPs to the consultation process, and create a “renewal clause” to allow future changes to the protocol.
Council said the protocol is not intended to restrict telecommunication services.
SaskTel has proposed a new cell tower on the edge of the McKell Wascana Conservation Park in Regina’s east end.
According to Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Michael Champion, the park is one of the last areas of native prairie in Wascana Plains with a “unique ecosystem” that is often used as an outdoor classroom.
Champion, along with a number of Wascana View residents, oppose the cell tower site, but are in favour of the antenna protocol.
“Wildlife and day migrants may be impacted by the cellular tower or by any tower,” Champion said.
“Being out there and observing the prairie on its own and then having this structure there, which isn’t natural, is going to impact wildlife and may impact the viewing experience in the park.”
Jack Huntington, a member of the Wascana View Action Group, told council the group would support the proposed protocol if it strengthened guidelines around proximity, environmental impacts and public consultation.
Daryl Godfrey, SaskTel’s chief technology officer, said the crown corporation is not “fully opposed” to the city’s proposed protocol. However, the company wants council to ensure the protocol does not create barriers to put up a cell tower.
Godfrey told council that proximity plays a key role in quality customer service and the company identifies its best locations for towers through a series of tests.
“For these types of designs, proximity is important. If we were to move a cell tower 500 metres away, it makes a major difference for connectivity,” Godfrey said, adding that could lead to dead zones or the inability to access cell service in a residential basement.
“As customers are using cell phones more and more, the need to be closer to these customers becomes even more important.”
A number of Regina residents spoke at council opposing the cell towers in residential areas, citing radiation and health concerns for people living and working close to 5G towers.
According to Godfrey, SaskTel follows federal health guidelines in regards to radiofrequency signals. He said the company is thousands of percentage points below Canada’s recommended signals.
“We don’t believe these cell towers provide any health risks to our customers,” Godfrey said.
Councillor Bob Hawkins clarified that the vote was strictly in relation to the antenna system protocol. Councillors would not vote on specific locations of any proposed cell towers.
STAGE SET FOR CATALYST COMMITTEE
Counc. Bob Hawkins and Tim Reid, president and CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. (REAL), will co-chair the city’s catalyst committee, a leadership group that will oversee three main projects in Regina’s core.
Council voted in favour of the committee’s terms of reference, which tasks the group with preparing future reports and recommendations related to a replacement arena for the Brandt Centre, a new aquatic centre to replace the aging Lawson facility and the potential need for a new baseball stadium.
According to city administration, the group will offer a “strategic level of leadership” and take into consideration how these projects could work in tandem to create growth in Regina.
Regina resident Jim Elliot spoke against the responsibilities of the catalyst committee at Wednesday’s council meeting.
“The terms of reference of the Catalyst Committee are too myopic and needs to consider more than just which recreation facility gets built first and where they get built. The world doesn’t necessarily revolve around these three buildings,” Elliot said.
Council also approved 14 of the 16 committee members. The committee will appoint the remaining two.
Councillors Lori Bresciani and Andrew Stevens will join Hawkins as council representatives.
The other committee members include:
- Lisa McIntyre, Downtown Business Improvement District
- Jeff Boutilier, Warehouse Improvement District
- Jeff Keshen, President and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina
- Tiffany Stephenson, Co-chair of the Arena Strategic Planning Committee
- Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, CEO of YWCA Regina
- Edmund Bellegard, File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council
- Cindy Kobayashi, Regina Public Library board member
- Kyle Jeworski, President and CEO of Viterra
- Ruth Smillie, Former artistic director of Globe Theatre
- Chris Lane, President and CEO of Economic Development Regina
The two vacant positions will be filled by someone in the “development community” and a member of an inner city community association.
The committee will be responsible for community engagement and consultation. It is set to report back to council with recommendations by the end of the year.
COUNCIL BACKS 2024 BRIER BID
City council is hoping to bring the Tim Hortons Brier back to Regina.
Councillors unanimously supported a motion to support the community bid to host the 2024 national men’s curling championship. City council will commit up to $200,000 towards a successful bid, which would include a cash grant of $125,000 and the use of Regina Transit services valued up to $75,000.
The financial support is subject to a number of conditions, primarily that Curl Regina demonstrates the ability to host the event through a comprehensive budget and event plan.
The funding will come from the 2024 annual events, conventions and tradeshows attraction budget.
The 2024 Brier is scheduled to run Mar. 1 to 10. Curling Canada estimates that a typical Brier requires about 400 or more volunteers and generates a minimum of $8 to $12 million in economic activity.
Victoria, B.C. is also a contender for the 2024 Brier.
The last time Regina hosted the Brier was in 2018.
The 2023 Tim Hortons Brier is being held March 3 to 12 in London, Ont.
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