The Regional District of Nanaimo formally rescinded support of a proposed Telus communication tower on Sunrise Drive in French Creek.
RDN director for the area, Joe Stanhope, brought forward a motion to send a letter to Industry Canada, rescinding support based on what he called a lack of neighbourhood support and Telus’ refusal to consider other options, including another company’s nearby tower and other existing structures like the Qualicum Beach water tower.
While there have been repeated calls for increased cell phone coverage between French Creek and Qualicum Beach, the proposed location at 1421 Sunrise Drive, near the Home Hardware, has been controversial since last summer when a number of residents complained to the RDN board.
Industry Canada requires “proponents to address reasonable and relevant concerns from both the land-use authority, which is us, and the community they represent,” Stanhope said, adding, “they should consider carefully the existing antenna systems.”
He said there has been unsatisfactory communication between Telus and RDN staff.
Stanhope said that while Telus had claimed neighbourhood support, he presented a map of where the letters of support had come from.
“Most of the support came from the Eaglecrest area and you can see they’re very close to the existing tower,” he said, meaning not very close to the proposed new site.
He said it has long been the goal of the RDN board to combine antennas when possible. The RDN board declined to support a Rogers communication tower on nearby Drew Road last summer, citing neighbourhood concerns.
Kelly Olson, who lives near the proposed Sunrise location and expressed concerns to the board last summer, said she was thrilled about the board’s move, but understands it is just one step.
According to Health Canada “Health concerns are sometimes expressed by people who live or work near cell phone towers… Yet, the consensus of the scientific community is that RF (radio frequency) energy from cell phone towers is too low to cause adverse health effects in humans.”
Olson has said many people are not convinced there is enough data and that, “We can’t take the chance with our children.”
Stanhope has previously said that the location is up to Industry Canada and he’s not sure how much RDN support or opposition factors in.