Huntsville considers 2 tower proposals amid COVID-19 calls for connectivity
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HUNTSVILLE — Two new telecommunications towers could be on their way to Huntsville.

Kirstin Maxwell, director of development services for the Town of Huntsville, told town planning committee members during an online meeting held June 16 that Rogers Communication had proposed a 30-metre monopole tower at 348 Muskoka Rd. 3 N. and a 60-metre self-supporting lattice tower for 519 Etwell Rd.

The approval process for both, which included public consultations, started in summer 2019.

A staff report noted that not only did the town’s official plan support the development of broadband communication facilities, but also that digital communication capacity had become increasingly important to the area.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digital communications to the region's future economic success,” stated the report on the proposed Etwell Road tower. “This proposal will increase capacity for wireless voice and data communication.”

Several residents and area leaders had increasingly voiced their concerns about limits to data and internet access, as the COVID-19 crisis had forced people to work from home and students into home-based online classrooms, let alone the increased business conducted online in the modern era.

While the municipality is able to provide comment on tower applications, the federal Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada ministry is ultimately responsible for final approval.

Coun. Bob Stone was the only committee member to raise concerns about the proposed towers.

“Lights on these towers destroy our vistas, and our night sky,” he said. “I cannot support this.”

He argued alternatives, including lower towers in different locations, should be considered.

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