SaskTel Pedestals on Agricultural Lands

Res #: 33-16M
Number: 33
Year: 2016
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: SaskTel

WHEREAS SaskTel pedestals are a common fixture throughout agriculturally productive lands and are cumbersome to maneuver large farm equipment around; and

WHEREAS if damages occur when machinery comes in contact with the pedestal, it may leave the farmer financially responsible for repairs;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby SaskTel to find a solution to relocate the telephone pedestals by burying them underground with other utility services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should the technology not exist at this time, SARM lobby SaskTel to reduce the number of pedestals or relocate them to locations that do not impede farming activity.

View response from Sasktel President and CEO

Responses From: SaskTel

June 29, 2020

In the time that has passed since the initial passing of Resolution 33-16M in 2016, our position remains the same.

In the 1960s, SaskTel facilities were placed mainly on road right-of-ways, in accordance with The Saskatchewan Telecommunications Act, giving SaskTel the right to put facilities on road allowances. However, these cables often caused problems for rural municipalities (RMs) during road construction.

Recognizing the concerns of the RMs, in the 1970s, SaskTel initiated a policy of installing cables in adjacent fields, where practical. The cables were placed far enough from the right-of-ways so as not to interfere with future road widening and far enough into the field so that farm equipment could pass between the ditch and any pedestals placed on the cable route.

SaskTel placed its facilities in the field to reduce inductive interference from power lines. Landowners at the time granted the permanent easements and were compensated for the pedestal placements and any related damages.

In 1986, during the cabling for the rural Individual Line Service Program, SaskTel brought in a policy that, if a cable had to be installed on cultivated land and the farmer didn't like the existing or proposed location of a pedestal, SaskTel would move the pedestal to an alternate location if a practical location for the pedestal could be found and the landowner paid half of the additional costs of placing the pedestal in the new location. The cost to redesign the location of one of these pedestals ranged from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

That arrangement did not satisfy everyone’s concerns so, in April 1993, SaskTel adopted a new policy where all new construction would follow routes that would reduce the number of new pedestals being placed on cultivated or hayed land.

Today, SaskTel installs very few “new” pedestals on cultivated or hayed fields. SaskTel has also enacted and follows a biosecurity protocol to minimize the risk to farmland.

Moving a pedestal is costly as it would involve, among other things, relocating complex electronic equipment, currently attached to the pedestal, that is essential for service. Any additional cable length would also degrade the signal. Engineering and provisioning time and miscellaneous expenses would further add to the cost of the move. SaskTel is not in a position to solely incur the costs to relocate pedestals.

SaskTel understands that some operators now use larger equipment, so a pedestal movement policy is in place to allow the equitable movement of pedestals to allow for unencumbered farming and for SaskTel to be compensated for the cost of moving from a previously agreed to location.

Doug Burnett – President & CEO of SaskTel