No accountability

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I can only imagine the fun and games at Algonquin Highlands recently when the aviation community flooded them with concerns about a new Rogers tower near Stanhope Airport.

The aviators, some of whom also spoke with The Highlander, were concerned about the proximity of the tower to the runway and also the tower going up initially without lighting.

Consequently, AH, which has no authority over Rogers’ towers, had to figure out what was going on. Mayor Liz Danielsen consulted with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network – which is overseeing the cell gap project. Meanwhile, director of public works, Adam Thorn, was busy with Rogers, Hydro One, Transport Canada and other federal agencies trying to put out the fire.

We’ve been going down the same rabbit hole since the beginning of last week. Asking questions. Getting lots of emails from corporate and government media types assuring us they are looking into the concerns, and will get back to us, but then it’s information we already know, non-answers or no answers. Rogers, for example, missed our initial deadline before telling us everything we already knew – and not addressing the white elephant in the room.

We knew the new tower was part of the EORN cell gap project, which EORN and Rogers espouse will provide and improve coverage to 99 per cent of Eastern Ontario through the construction of 300 new sites.”

Rogers assured us they work closely with the local community to ensure their services, equipment and design meet local needs.

They said they followed all required procedures with Nav Canada and Transport Canada throughout site selection, consultation and build. They said Nav Canada was notified of, and approved, the site location and tower prior to the build.

The lights on all their towers are turned on, they told us, as soon as hydro is made available at the site.

But, hang on. The aviators told us that initially there were no lights. Algonquin Highlands mayor Liz Danielsen told The Highlander there was a time when the tower was up and there were no lights. She told County council the same thing at their March 27 meeting. She said that staff had to get in touch with Rogers to urge them to get a generator at the site asap to light the tower while awaiting hydro.

Our Rogers spokesman did not address this. We replied to his email with a follow-up. Um… what exactly had been their plan when a new tower was erected near an airport without hydro to light it. Had they planned to have a generator in place so when the tower became operational, it had lights? We are still waiting for their answer. Still waiting for replies on our generator question from all the federal authorities, too.

In the meantime, it’s our understanding it was AH staff that contacted Rogers to ensure a generator was moved on-site until hydro could be connected. We’ve also been told it was AH staff that made sure that pilots were alerted to the situation.

None of this was the job of Algonquin Highlands. Rogers and the federal government transportation authorities have let them, and the public, down. They need to do so much better.