Red Deer County councillors expressed doubts on Tuesday about a 60-metre communications tower destined for Gasoline Alley.
Rogers Communications wants to put up the tower near Lantern Street and Liberty Avenue to provide better cellphone coverage.
But councillors questioned whether the free-standing tower’s appearance could be improved and whether it was necessary to position it in the heart of the Gasoline Alley area.
Councillor Jim Wood said the county has developed stringent landscaping and development requirements for the area, which is expected to see a lot of development in coming years.
He wondered how a tower would fit into the vision for the area.
Deb Bonnett, the county’s economic development manager, said towers are considered both permitted and discretionary uses in the county bylaw and it is unlikely an effort to block the tower would hold up under appeal.
“If it goes to an appeal, it’s likely going to get approved.”
Wood said while he supported getting improved communications in the county, he wanted to know if Rogers had considered other locations for the tower.
Development officer Treena Miller said she had been talking with Rogers about the tower for more than a year and this was the location ultimately chosen.
County Mayor Earl Kinsella said the company would be unlikely to spend money on land in that area if Rogers was not convinced it was the best location.
Councillor Reimar Poth wanted to know if Rogers was willing to choose a better-looking design.
Some communications towers in other parts of the province have more visually appealing designs, he said. If this is the only design that works, he accepts that.
“If it isn’t, if there is something else, let’s go along with that.”
The lattice work tower is topped with communications antennas and will sit on 14.6 acres of land.
One neighbouring business objected.
Council approved a development permit for the tower with only Councillor Wood opposed. County staff will inquire about other designs. Transport Canada has final say on approving communication towers.