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New cell tower rules from feds


cell towers in Toronto
Divisive issue in communities, possible health risks

Over the last twenty years, wireless services have grown into something Canadian consumers rely on daily, says a news release from South Shore St. Margarets MP Gerald Keddy. "As a result, adds the release, "we are seeing an increasing number of new cell towers being constructed in our communities. Their placement is becoming an ever more divisive issue with the rapidly increasing demand for wireless services."
 
Canadians deserve to have a say in how new cell tower locations are identified in their communities, according to Keddy.  He says that improvements to Industry Canada’s Antenna Tower Siting Policy will ensure that local home owners and municipal governments are at the forefront of the tower placement process.  

The changes guiding the installation of new antenna towers will include requirements that companies:

  • consult communities on all commercial tower installations, regardless of height;
  • build any tower within three years of consulting with communities; and
  • ensure home owners are well informed of upcoming consultations.

The improvements, according to Keddy, will also strengthen federal communications with the public on tower siting procedures, including new online resources on the process, and new reporting mechanisms to track tower issues and report back to communities.

 These measures, adds the release, build on the government’s current tower sharing policies that require companies to first look at sharing existing tower infrastructure, whenever they can, to reduce the number of new towers needed in each community.

The placement of new cell towers is often a divisive issue in communities across Canada, says Keddy. It is essential that home owners and municipal governments be at the centre of the process to determine the location of a new tower, and it is up to the wireless industry to ensure local voices are heard. These new rules will give communities a better say in the placement of new cell towers.”

Cell towers and health
There are allegations that cell towers are a danger to human health, as evidenced in a recent lawsuit filed against Bell Aliant by a Nova Scotia homeowner who accused Bell of fraudulently enticing her into leasing space on her land for a tower installation in the Halifax area. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the suit, which alleges prior knowledge of Bell of health risks proir to negotiating the lease, may proceed in the court system.

The court found that there exists objective evidence in the form of expert reports, to support the allegations of health risks and negligence on the part of Bell Aliant. In dismissing Bell's petition for summary judgement, the court ruled January 27 that the potential health risks associated with cell tower emissions may be at issue at the impending trial and that Bell Aliant's knowledge of the potential health risks associated with cell tower emissions at relevant times may also be in issue.

None of the original allegations has been proven in court.