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Koel’s Notes: Port McNeill council discusses Rogers, bylaws, and more

Rogers was hoping the third time would be the charm
The proposed tower area. (Town of Port McNeill photo)

Written by Derek Koel

Koel’s Notes

Port McNeill council went through the entire month of September with only one regular meeting being held. Other than Coun. Shelley Downey, who was absent, everyone else was on hand for the Sept. 12 meeting, and there was some notable old business on council’s table. Once again, Rogers Communication was on the agenda, represented by SitePath Consulting Ltd.

A staff report requested “a decision of land concurrence as requested by Rogers.” Yes, Rogers was back again to ask for a cell phone tower, at the same proposed location as last time.

Rogers was hoping the third time would be the charm, after the previously elected town council nixed their first attempt in September of 2022.

In April of this year, the current council stopped short of a motion against the tower, but did give SitePath and Rogers a bit of a rough ride on their second go of it.

The proposed location would see a 20 meter monopole tower placed at the rear of the North Coast Collision property at 430 Pioneer Drive. Rogers picked the spot, in part, due to the property’s industrial zoning and its downtown location.

Council’s permission was seen as a “nice to have” item, but it’s not required for the project to go ahead. Industry Canada makes that decision. Tower aesthetics and lower property values typically do not enter into the equation, and the federal agency does not consider health concerns surrounding radio frequency emissions as a sufficient reason for refusal.

Council was not charmed with the third request, rejecting it in short order, this time with an official motion as suggested by Coun. Leighann Ruel to “uphold the previous council’s decision on this matter.”

Coun. Ann Marie Baron noted they “didn’t come back with anything new.”

Mayor James Furney agreed. “They are welcome to come back with something new.”

The brakes were put on the second and third reading (out of four) on the revised Animal Responsibility Bylaw No. 722. Not because backyard chickens were back on the table, as some community members have requested, rather because Baron wanted “more records and reporting to council” worked into the bylaw.

Backyard chickens are covered by two different bylaws, and Bylaw 722 is one of them. When the Gazette asked if a reversal of the poultry ban was being considered, Furney confirmed, in no uncertain terms, that allowing backyard chickens was not being considered.

The usual staff and department reports filled out the rest of the meeting agenda, but two things from the “items from in-camera to be made public” portion of the meeting were worthy of questioning and reporting on.

As reported previously by the Gazette, the Town of Port McNeill was the recipient of a substantial land donation, 2.4 acres of forested land on Cedar Street, located in downtown Port McNeill. Western Forest Products representatives were on hand with the oversized land deed certificate to seal the deal.

The town’s statement said that this donation is “the result of the long standing, collaborative working relationship between the town and Western.”

When asked if there were any restrictive covenants associated with the land donation, the subject was deemed too delicate to discuss and questions on the matter were not answered.

Former mayor Gaby Wickstrom was back at a council meeting for the first time since losing the mayor’s seat last October. This time around, she was in a gallery seat. The in-camera decision was then publicly released - Wickstrom will be the town’s newest member of the Advisory Planning Commission.

The decision to appoint a new commission and committee members has traditionally been a public affair at council meetings.

This decision to appoint Wickstrom was made behind closed doors, and when asked about this departure from the norm, the town declined to answer.