Petition helps residents poleaxe cell tower

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/10/2011 (3971 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Wildwood Park residents are celebrating after MTS poleaxed a plan to build a cell tower in the heart of their community.

The communications giant had planned to construct the 60-foot tower on the north side of the Wildwood Community Centre near a winter toboggan run in a greenspace area used by children and families.

MTS had chosen the proposed location to provide better indoor reception for customers in the densely treed community — but this sparked serious concerns among residents about potential environmental and noise pollution.

File photo by Simon Fuller Lisa Prefontaine, and son Owen, showed their community support on May 26 when Wildwood Park residents met with MTS officials at Wildwood Community Centre.

An MTS spokesperson confirmed letters were delivered on Sept. 26 to 40 households that were within the affected radius identified by the city.

“Based on the feedback of the community, we felt it was appropriate not to proceed, as we wanted to consider their input,” said MTS spokesperson Jessica Poitras.

“There are no plans to return to the Wildwood Park area as a possible location at this time. Our coverage there is good. The area we wanted to improve was the indoor coverage, such as customers that might experience difficulty in their basements.”  

Residents met with MTS officials at the community centre in May for a frank exchange of views and many community members left officials in no doubt about their opposition to the proposal.

One long-time resident, and spokesperson for the community group ReWild Alliance, said a petition registering resident opposition played a powerful role in the outcome.

“The petition had a huge impact on their decision,” said Stephanie Wicks, who canvassed 144 homes personally. “It was a way to present something on paper, so that it could in no way be disregarded.”

Wicks said the final signature count was 535, although canvassers didn’t make it to every home in a community divided into 10 lettered sections.

She also praised MTS officials for listening to the community before putting the breaks on the plan.

“Kudos goes to them for making this decision. It wasn’t an easy one, but they made it to reflect the community’s wishes, so a big nod for that,” Wicks said.

Resident Barb Degen said it was empowering to impact the decision-making process.

“It’s wonderful to know that we have some power in big issues like this,” said Degen, who has lived in Wildwood Park for the past 35 years.

“It shows that if people can come together and get organized, you really can have an influence on your neighbourhood. If we hadn’t taken that petition around, don’t think this would have happened.”

Area councillor Jenny Gerbasi said community unity drove the final decision.

“The outcome makes people feel they have a voice,” Gerbasi said.  

“It’s not always the case, but sometimes you get a pretty clear sense of where the majority of people are at. The Wildwood community is unique, very active and has got a good sense of where it’s coming from.”

To learn more about the community, visit www.rewild.ca.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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