By Steve Hubrecht 

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Cell phone reception may get better in Invermere and surrounding parts of the Columbia Valley. 

Rogers Communications Inc. will soon begin public consultation on a new cell phone tower within District of Invermere boundaries.

Rogers wants to put the new tower — described as a 25-metre high monopole — on a 10 metre by 10 metre square area at the eastern edge of the Lakeview parking lot, behind Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena.

Currently Rogers provides service in the Columbia Valley from a macro cell tower at Mount Swansea. 

Telus Communications Inc. has a macro cell tower in the same spot, but also has one in downtown Invermere — a 17-metre high monopole atop the building on the southwest corner of main street (7th Avenue) and 4th Street, near the Sobey’s and the Columbia Valley Centre.

Rogers also wants a downtown tower too, which it says will help the company improve coverage within Invermere and nearby parts of the valley. It initially proposed putting a 30-metre high monopole tower in the space between the Invermere fire hall, the Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 office building, the Windermere Valley Child Care Society’s daycare, and the Columbia Valley Centre parking lot.

That location was shot down by Invermere council. Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young explained that council and district staff were concerned about how close that spot was to the daycare and the aesthetic effect it would have on the Columbia Valley Centre.

“It also would have been quite visible as you drive up the hill into Invermere. It would not have been a great welcome to town,” added councillor Theresa Wood.

Invermere council members and staff feel the spot behind the arena is better.

“It should not be very prominent or dominant on the horizon and I think it is a good location,” said Young. 

Invermere Mayor Al Miller added the spot is somewhat wooded and said he hopes Rogers paints the cell tower green to help it blend in better.

The land the cell tower would be located on is owned by the district, and Rogers would pay the district rent. The agreement would initially be for five years, with three possible extensions, each of a further five years. 

The rental rates would be $15,000 per year for the first five years, $17,250 per year for years six through 10, $19,837 per year for years 11 through 15, and $22,813 per year for years 16 through 20. This equates to $374,500 in revenue for the district over the full 20 years.

The vacant piece of land that Rogers hopes to build on.