Tapping the Dorset tower for telecommunications
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 23, 2017
Xplornet would like to use the Dorset lookout tower property as an operations site, either by installing equipment on the property or attaching antannae to the tower owned by Algonquin Highlands township.
Consultant Lorne Galbraith visited township councillors during a Feb. 16 meeting to make the pitch.
Xplornet is proposing to pay the municipality $6,000 in annual rent for the use of space, for an initial period of 10 years.
“We have problems with and a big need for access to high-speed Internet,” said Reeve Carol Moffatt.
Councillors asked how many residents would benefit as a result of the proposed project.
Galbraith said the equipment would cover a radius of about 30 kilometres, with the ability to connect to other towers.
“It would speed up Internet for existing customers, as well,” he said,
Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen suggested the township should perhaps have a policy for dealing with such proposals.
“We don’t have a policy about this,” Danielsen said. “We need to think about the tower and what it can bear.”
Chief administrative officer Angie Bird suggested that if council wished to proceed, that an engineering study be conducted to see if the tower can handle the weight, the wind resistance, etc.
“We have some different uses [for the tower],” Moffatt said, adding, for example, that the township has installed a web cam on the structure. “Does council consider this a conflicting use or a complementary use?”
Councillor Brian Lynch said he saw benefits to Xplornet’s proposal, but that caution needed to be taken, in particular regarding the aesthetics of the tower.
“Living in an under-serviced area is sometimes a bit of a challenge,” Lynch said. “I see this as a big plus. Any additions shouldn’t be too intrusive. If you look at the top of the tower now, it looks messy.”
“I know it is a tourist place up there,” Galbraith said. “You could put it back in the trees, hidden.”
Councillors told Galbraith they were interested, but would like to see drawings and also a coverage map.
“We would like to see what it would do for folks in Algonquin Highlands,” said Councillor Marlene Kyle.
Dorset sits partly in Algonquin Highlands township and partly in Lake of Bays township in the District of Muskoka, so some of the beneficiaries of the project would be residents of Muskoka, not Haliburton County.
Lynch said he’d also like to see co-location with a cell company to provide cellular service.