Heritage Kincardine objects
to Bell tower on Legion property

By Liz Dadson


Kincardine council

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Heritage Kincardine is not in favour of a proposal to put up a Bell Wireless Telecommunications tower north of the Kincardine Legion building.

In committee-of-the-whole Wednesday night (April 9), chief building official Michele Barr explained that Bell Mobility has requested the concurrence of Kincardine council to put up a 25-metre tower on the private property of the Legion at 219 Lambton Street.

With the ongoing increase in the use of personal cellular telephones and other devices, such as Blackberry and broadband Internet, for personal business and emergency purposes, new infrastructure is required to keep up with the demand, said Barr.

"Bell Mobility has determined that the Municipality of Kincardine requires a new wireless telecommunication facility."

Barr said the proposed system is a steel, shrouded tri-pole communications tower; antennae to be added to the tower would be shrouded from view by proposed Legion signage.

She noted that these facilities are regulated by the federal government under Industry Canada. Therefore, this tower does not require municipal or provincial planning approvals, but Bell Mobility is requesting concurrence with the proposal.

Barr said Bell conducted a public consultation process which was completed in February and March of this year.

Patti Richards and Sylvia Leigh of Heritage Kincardine brought two resolutions forward objecting to the proposed tower.

Richards said Heritage Kincardine was not aware that this was happening and would have preferred more notice.

She said the Legion and the grounds carry a heritage designation. Plus, there are about a dozen heritage properties in that area.

Putting up the telecommunications tower will conflict with this designation, said Richards. It will also disrupt the natural heritage of the neighbourhood and conflict with the ability to establish a heritage district in this area in the future.

"There are commercial areas where this tower would not interfere with heritage properties," said Richards. "It will obscure people's view of Lake Huron and its beautiful sunsets."

As for the proposed Legion signage on the tower, Heritage Kincardine is opposed to that too because it will commercialize a designated heritage property; is unnecessary in light of the municipality's current signage program; does not aesthetically-complement the heritage qualities of this area of Kincardine; and will conflict with the ability to establish a heritage district in this area in the future.

"Signage is allowed on other heritage buildings but not 25 metres high," said Richards. "It will make it difficult for us to attract tourists to this heritage area."

Robert Grey, secretary of the Kincardine Legion, agreed that there are a number of designated heritage properties in Kincardine that already have commercial signs on them, such as the Knox Presbyterian Church, Malcolm Place and the Walker House.

He said the proposed sign is not going to be attached to the Legion and will not detract from the original heritage-designated building (Ardloch Lodge).

Grey said the sign, itself, is the approved Dominion Command Legion logo and depicts the Legion name and the poppy.

"The poppy is the official symbol of remembrance for those Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of our country, and we do not believe that it is in any way in conflict with the heritage values of our community," he said. "This year, in fact, marks 100 years since the beginning of the First World War."

Grey noted that the Legion has asked the municipality for permission to put up signs around the municipality, directing people to the Legion, but has been unsuccessful.

"With respect to the potential for this area to become a Heritage District, we do not believe that the sign or tower would affect this, should it ever come to pass in the future," said Grey. 

"Whenever there was any discussion of a Heritage District for Kincardine, it centred around the Princes Street and Queen Street core. Certainly, there are heritage buildings all over Kincardine, but we do not think the area of the Legion is one of great concentration of such buildings."

Grey pointed out that with respect to the designation bylaw for the Legion, the grounds of the former Ardloch Lodge have, rightly or wrongly, already been completely destroyed with the addition of the new hall in 1977, and the removal of the outbuildings that were originally part of the Lodge.

"The existence of a tower at this stage does not affect the designation of the beautiful original building," he said, "and the Legion takes pains to maintain and respect the original heritage value of it."

Grey said the Kincardine Legion, as with other Legions in the country, has had to face certain financial struggles over the past several years, due to its aging membership. Legions receive absolutely no financial support from federal or provincial governments.

"However, the lease with Bell for this tower will financially benefit the Legion in Kincardine and help to keep us viable," he said. 

"The Legion supports a great number of community groups in Kincardine, including minor hockey, seniors, Community Living, the hospital foundation, St. John Ambulance, Alzheimer Society, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Kincardine and Chinook fish derbies, Easter Seals, Kincardine and Tiverton agricultural societies, Kincardine Community Services, and many, many more."

He said the Legion sincerely respects the aims, goals and achievements of Heritage Kincardine, but requested council approve the sign bylaw exemption, and concur with the installation of the Bell Mobility tower.


Joel Swagerman of FONTUR International Inc., on contract to Bell Mobility, told council that Bell believes the subject proposal:

  • Is in a location technically suitable to meet Bell Mobility's network requirements
  • Is a design that respects the local context, and could possibly accommodate additional providers in the future, if required
  • Is a development compatible and appropriate with surrounding uses, and will have limited impact on existing land uses in the vicinity

Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said she is passionate about heritage and culture, and she believes there are other options to consider for this tower, which would be less intrusive.

Referring to research material, she said that cell towers in small towns are a "loaded issue" and many companies have taken advantage of local government due to a lack of knowledge.

"I am completely against this tower beside the Legion," she said.

Deputy mayor Anne Eadie asked what other options are available, and wondered if a 25-metre tower is really necessary.

Swagerman said that a search area was used, with a focus on downtown Kincardine where the demand for cellular service is highest. Other options included the municipal parking lot and roof tops. However, the only viable option was the site beside the Legion.

Originally, it was to be a 30-metre tower, but it has been reduced to a 25-metre tower, he said.

"To accept this, I would like to see the explanations of those options," said Faubert. "There are lots of innovative ideas out there, such as having the service hidden inside a clock tower, so it's less intrusive, especially in a community known for its heritage and culture."

Councillor Kenneth Craig asked if council even has a say in whether this tower is approved.

"It's on Legion property so the Legion could go ahead and do this," said mayor Larry Kraemer. "The only issue for council is the exemption to the sign bylaw."

Craig suggested deferring the issue until the April 16 council meeting when council knows what its role is in this.

Barr said council's role is to concur that the process has been followed, as outlined by the federal guidelines for regulating these towers.

"So, this is just a formality," said Eadie.

"The sign bylaw is your jurisdiction," said Swagerman.

"With respect to Heritage Kincardine, without the members of the Legion and all they do, nobody would be there to take care of this building," said councillor Mike Leggett. "They need funding, and this is the big kick they need to keep going.

"Bell's big challenge is to get service below the hill. The benefit to the Legion is enough money to maintain this heritage building."

"The only question we have to answer is, did it go through the process? said Craig. "And it did."

Faubert argued that the real paradox in this situation is that council hasn't followed its own policy with respect to heritage buildings.

"Heritage Kincardine needs to be part of this discussion and it wasn't even consulted," she said.

When the vote was called for concurrence on the installation of the wireless telecommunications tower, it was defeated.

However, the exemption to the sign bylaw was approved, allowing the tower to contain the Dominion Legion Logo identification.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014