EDITORIAL: Rookie drama

All seemed copacetic, motions passing unanimously, one by one.

All seemed copacetic, motions passing unanimously, one by one.

Only five of the seven Parksville city councillors were in attendance for their latest regular meeting Oct. 5, veterans Sue Powell and Al Greir absent.

Some days, the recommendations before a council have been debated many times in the past. Sometimes they are straightforward housekeeping issues that really don’t require debate, but must be passed by council so staff can do its job more efficiently.

We’re not sure what category this one falls into — probably none of the above — but rookie Coun. Leanne Salter wasn’t going to let it slide by without comment and her emphatic vote against.

In 2011, the council of the day entered into an agreement with Rogers Communications to install telecommunications equipment on the Telus tower at the Top Bridge reservoir. The equipment enhances cell phone and other data transmission for the industrial and resort areas.

The agreement provided for three renewals at five years each. The city gets $10,000 a year in revenue from this arrangement. It was time to renew — nothing had changed — so staff asked council for approval.

The motion was on the floor and the mayor asked if there were any comments or questions. Up shot Salter’s hand, which often happens in council just before she asks a question that has already been answered in the staff report she’s had for a few days or in council discussion.

Salter believes, like many other people, wireless radiation from cell towers (and cell phones and Wi-Fi and microwave ovens and garage-door openers) is harmful. She clearly does not want to be seen as someone who voted for this motion related to the cell tower. She quoted the Canadian Medical Association, which earlier this year scolded Health Canada for its guidelines on cell phones and Wi-Fi.

Mayor Marc Lefebvre said he takes his direction on health matters from Island Health. The CMA certainly is a legitimate source (unlike the junk Internet science that so many people like to share, especially with newspaper editors) and it’s possible Health Canada and Island Health need to do some catch-up on this issue.

Salter was the only vote against the renewal of the deal with Rogers and, typically, opted for drama and an accusatory tone directed at her colleagues.

“Is $10,000 worth the deaths of our friends and children?” she said.

— Editorial by John Harding

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