Residents packed the Regional District of Nanaimo board chambers Tuesday night to show their anger over two related issues: a proposed Telus Cell Tower in Cedar and B.C. Hydro’s plan to replace existing electricity meters with wireless, so-called smart meters.
Delegations at the meeting stated the cell tower, proposed for 1710 Woobank Rd. in Cedar, would be in close proximity to residences and an elementary school, and the radio frequency emitted would be a health hazard. The tower would also be too close to endangered blue heron nests and within 300 meters of a new green development plan, the audience heard.
A representative from Telus spoke at the meeting as well — receiving some disagreeing shouts from the crowd — claiming the tower is well below Health Canada’s permissible radio frequency levels and will improve wireless service for residents, businesses, first responders and others. The speaker requested the board direct staff to provide a letter to Telus acknowledging that cell towers are allowed under zoning bylaws and are under federal jurisdiction for approval.
Following the presentation some residents stood, wanting to ask questions, but were told they were out of order by RDN Chair Joe Stanhope.
This made some residents angry, yelling they were being ignored.
An RDN staff member offered to talk to them outside the chambers and explain.
The police were called as a precaution as one resident kept insisting loudly that the meeting wasn’t following Robert’s Rules of Order — a common outline of how meetings are run.
While many residents were outside the chamber, Area A director (Cedar area) Joe Burnett made a motion that a letter be sent to Industry Canada advising them that the RDN is opposed to a cell tower being installed at the location and request they deny Telus’ application.
The motion carried.
The RDN was able to stop
the installation of a Telus cell tower on Hammond Bay Road some months ago, as it was on RDN land.
The current application for the cell tower in Cedar is on private land however, so the RDN could only make recommendations.
ourcy, Mudge Islands) Gisele Rudischer made another motion for the RDN to develop a cell tower placement protocol.
The motion passed.
Director Rudischer also made a motion that the RDN request a moratorium on the mandatory installation of wireless smart meters until the issues identified could be independently assessed.
She also asked that the RDN support a resolution made by the City of Colwood to discuss the issue at the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention.
“There is for sure no unequivocal way we can say this is safe technology,” Rudischer said at the meeting, “and until we can say that we have an obligation to protect the health of our constituents.”
Parksville councillor Marc Lefebvre said he supported the motion as there were many health concerns, among other issues surrounding the meters. Director Jim Kipp with the City if Nanaimo said he also had concerns with the meters and their emissions.
“I know if I put a cat in my microwave it’s dead real quick right, so the stuff’s powerful, radio frequency …this stuff is dangerous.”
He said it was best they err on the side of caution, and other councillors agreed.
Area H (Qualicum Bay,Bowser area) director Dave Bartram and Area G (French Creek area) director Joe Stanhope both said they would like more information and to hear B.C. Hydro’s side of the story, and did not support the motion.
The motion passed and many councillors were hopeful that information and meaningful discussion would be presented at the UBCM.