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'Going to be an eyesore': Warman residents oppose cell tower replacement

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A Warman man is organizing opposition to a cell tower SaskTel is proposing to replace on the western edge of the city.

Milt Block received notice in his mailbox that SaskTel intends to replace a 15-metre cell tower in Kessler Park with a 35-metre tower in the same location to upgrade the coverage area from 4G to 5G.

"We have some concerns about the location of a 35 meter tower that's placed you know, right in the middle of a green space in the middle of a well developed residential area," he said. "Our question is, why here?"

Block and a few others created www.warmanvoice.com to lay out their concerns and organize a petition against the replacement of the tower. In a few days, more than 100 people in Warman have signed the petition.

Block says he's not against improved cellular service, but he is opposed to the visual aesthetic such a large tower could create in the park.

"What I'm not crazy about is what I think is going to be an eyesore," he said.

SaskTel communications manager Greg Jacobs says the proposed tower replacement is one of two happening in the community, and part of more than 1,000 cell towers being upgarded with 5G capabilities as part of the company's $500 million effort its undertaken since 2021.

Jacobs said that sight was chosen for a new tower because the existing tower can't handle the weight of the new 5G equipment. The tower also needs to be built higher to improve coverage since 5G signals don't travel as far the existing 4G signals.

"Instead of moving a tower into an area where it won't provide the coverage characteristics that we want -- and will add a significant amount of time and cost to moving a tower -- it's more ideal for us and for our customers if we build the new structure where the existing structure is," Jacobs said.

Block suggested other areas in the city where a tower of that size could be placed, like a nearby Rogers tower to the west or near the Legends centre, which is more of an industrial area.

SaskTel says they looked at all options available and landed on the existing tower at Kessler Park as the best fit.

"From what we've seen that tower is fully loaded," Jacobs said of the Rogers tower to the west. "There is nothing that we can add to it and it's not suitable for our needs."

Jacobs also said the location of the tower would affect the coverage for the area.

A second tower in the city, located directly in a residential area, is also slated for replacement. Jacobs said that tower hasn't received any negative feedback or attention.

"For one reason or another, some individuals will raise concerns over a project that might be closer to them than other projects," Jacbos said.

Warman residents have until April 7 to submit written public comments about their concerns with the proposed project. After that, SaskTel compiles all the comments and sends them to the federal innovation, science and economic development department office with a recommendation to either move forward or scrap the project.

The project timeline could take either weeks or years to build the tower from that point on, depending on all the variables the federal government has to weigh.

Construction, if approved, would only take one to two weeks, according to Jacobs.

The City of Warman says it is asking SaskTel to share any information it has regarding the public consultation phase of the project. 

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