Cell Towers Remain the Biggest Issue in Oakville
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In Oakville, the biggest issue is still cellular towers and where they go. I am highly engaged with this issue. Here is my latest update on the issue, which was sent as a column to the Oakville Beaver last week:
Regarding the Proposed Cellular Tower on Lakeshore in Bronte (the full article before the Beaver edited key sections)
On August 7th, Councillor Ralph Robinson wrote in the Oakville Beaver that ‘Town Council has absolutely no authority over the 14.9 meter installation’. He has also circulated a letter that states ‘the feds…pay almost no attention to anyone.’
Yet with insistence from local citizens on Monday, Councillor Robinson moved that council advise the federal government the town does not concur with such towers within specific distances of sensitive land use and was supported unanimously by council. This motion is based on federal regulations providing municipalities with a legal right to ‘concur’ or not concur with such towers. Towns do have some authority, and responsibility: to represent the views of local residents to Industry Canada.
Councillor Alan Elgar is quoted saying “there is nothing the town can do to stop it.” There are lots of things council could do. They could finish the job they started in May 2012 and produce a permanent town protocol for cellular towers that includes community consultations for towers under fifteen metres. (The interim one does nothing for towers under 15 metres) They could hold hearings at Town Council Chambers. Or they could simply adopt the Federation of Canadian Municipalities protocol with the wireless industry which clearly provides for public consultations for towers under 15 metres, described on the FCM web site:
“Telecommunications carriers have agreed for the first time to notify municipalities of all antennas being installed before their construction, regardless of height, and to undertake full public consultation for towers under 15 meters – whenever deemed necessary by the municipality.” The people in Bronte would have loved that, but council missed that boat. If they hadn’t, Bell Canada would have been obliged to not just notify the town, but undertake full public consultation on the proposed tower on request.
So why doesn’t council want to do what they can to stop inappropriate cellular installations? Recently I was maligned unfairly and inaccurately at a public meeting by Mayor Burton, accused of doing nothing on this issue. Apparently Mayor Burton would rather blame me and the federal government while pretending he could do nothing, than do something. This is the same lackluster opposition and blame-shifting Mayor Burton offered when the power plant was first proposed by the McGuinty government for Oakville or Mississauga. Mayor Hazel McCallion won. Oakville lost.
Consultations provide no guarantee Bell would pull their application but it’s important to note that facing opposition from residents and local councillors Cathy Duddeck and Pam Damoff, Rogers pulled their proposed tower at Hopedale Mall over a year ago, even after construction had started. Bell Canada is facing similar pressure from me.
The leadership on this issue is coming from many of the same people who as C4CA stopped the proposed power plant in East Oakville – Canadians for Safe Technology, and I fully support their efforts.
As MP, I am fully engaged with this issue. I have been working with C4ST, the Minister of Industry, Minister of Health, and my parliamentary colleagues, to challenge the authority at Industry Canada and Safety Code 6. I will be tabling a Private Member’s Bill this fall which would amongst other things transfer the final say on where cellular towers can be placed to municipalities. As they control local land use planning, local building permits and local zoning this makes sense. Although it is clear this is a responsibility Mayor Burton and his caucus on council do not want.
Here is my statement in parliament on June 13, 2012:
Mr. Speaker, cellular telephones and cellular telephone antennae emit radio frequency electromagnetic radiation that the World Health Organization has classified as possibly carcinogenic. That is why Apple and RIM warn their customers to not touch BlackBerrys and iPhones during a call and to keep these devices at least 15 millimetres from their bodies. Health Canada tells parents to reduce children’s EMR exposure with shorter telephone calls, hands-free devices and text messaging, because children are more sensitive.
The people of Oakville do not want cellular antennae that broadcast electromagnetic radiation located near their homes, schools, daycare centres or health care facilities. We have good coverage for phone calls and do not need cellular towers everywhere to broadcast hockey games to hand-held devices in every room.
Rogers and Telus are working with local residents, but Bell Canada has placed powerful antennae 11 metres from a child’s bedroom and over the heads of our firefighters and refuses to move them. This is intolerable. I would tell the president of Bell Canada, Mr. George Cope, to tear down those antennae.