'Steeple' cell tower set for church called too tall

A plan to build a cell tower disguised as a church steeple is drawing a chorus of objection from local residents in southwest Calgary.

Rogers Communications Inc. wants to put up a 25-metre receiver at Grace Lutheran Church at 3610 Sarcee Road S.W. in Rutland Park. It would be constructed to look like a steeple with a cross at the top.

Rogers hosted an open house Tuesday night at the church for people living in the neighbourhood to ask questions about the proposal. No one representing the church attended.

Wayne Frisch, who lives next to the church, is uncomfortable with what he calls a mixing of two icons — one modern and one ancient.

"We don't want a cross 110 feet above our community. Not because we don't believe in what it represents. I think it's a juxtaposition," said Frisch, who is circulating a petition against the project.

"You're hiding technology behind something and you're mixing two things that shouldn't maybe mix."

Public consultations could end

Tuesday's public consultation could turn out to be the last of its kind.

On Wednesday, a city council committee is set to discuss whether such public meetings should continue to be mandatory before cellphone tower applications can be approved.

It is not uncommon for churches to put cell towers on their properties, according to Ward 4 Ald. Bob Hawkesworth.

But church officials need to ensure the structures are not eyesores, he said, noting that several such proposals have been turned down in his ward.

"You are not putting in ugly towers that will be there forever scarring the landscape,"

Rogers is required to submit a report from Tuesday's meeting to the city. The planning department will then recommend to Industry Canada whether the tower should be approved.