Telus has plans for 3 cell towers on Cortes Islands. The proposal for one of them, in the Manson’s Landing area, is open for public comment and expressions of concern through 31 January. We do have choices in how we respond.
To put this in some context, 99.7% of Canadians have mobile access, and 97% of them have at least LTE access. There are 32 million smart phones for our population of 38 million. These levels have been accomplished under the existing regulations as described in CPC-2-0-03 Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems. CPC-2-0-03 explicitly describes the process for siting new telecommunications towers in Canada, including the public consultation part of that process.
Here’s a reality check. There is no chance that these federal regulations will be changed or modified to meet any unique requirements put forward by our community of 1,000, which is about .0026% of the Canadian population. So we need to respond to the tower proposals in conformance with CPC-2-0-03.
CPC-2-3-03 has a paragraph in section 4.2 as follows:
Concerns that are not relevant include:
• disputes with members of the public relating to the proponent's service, but unrelated to antenna installations;
• potential effects that a proposed antenna system will have on property values or municipal taxes;
• questions whether the Radiocommunication Act, this document, Safety Code 6, locally established by-laws, other legislation, procedures or processes are valid or should be reformed in some manner.
The diverse population of Cortes Island actually does have a lot of accumulated wisdom, some of which is immediately available. Here’s some emergent wisdom relevant to this topic of tower siting:
• We should not waste time with service complaints irrelevant to tower siting;
• We should not waste time talking about effects on property values;
• We should not waste time talking about Health concerns such as EMF, as they are covered under compliance requirements with Safety Code 6;
• We should not waste time fussing about 5G in this specific context because this will not be considered relevant in the context of the siting and specifics of the tower installation;
• We should not waste time expecting ISED to change the regulations so that we can deal with all tower siting proposals for Cortes Island within a single process, rather than using the prescribed process for each tower;
• We should not expect that the normal duration from the time a tower is proposed until the siting approval process is complete will necessarily be extended from the normal 120 days to the 30 – 60 months it may take for the fiber project to be completed;
• We should acknowledge that Cortes Island will have cell towers at some point.
Section 4.2 does have examples of concerns that would be relevant to be addressed in this process, and Cortesians should certainly write in to express those types of concerns. This regulation can be found at:https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf08777.html
It would be a good idea if those who wanted to submit comments first reviewed this regulation, to better understand what is and what is not relevant to this specific process, and then followed up with Telus when Telus has responded to their concerns.
There’s no obvious reason why this process should not work reasonably, acceptably well for our population, as it apparently has already for the vast majority of the Canadian population, if we approach it with some flexibility and wisdom.
Alternatively, our Don and Dona Quixote’s can expend a lot of verbiage tilting at … transmission towers, and perhaps bog the process down awhile, without really accomplishing much, other than depriving ourselves of the ability to contact emergency services and the ability to have easy mobile contact with family and friends, when outside or away from our homes.
To recap: Canada does have a clear process for obtaining approval for the siting of transmission towers. This process is not intended to be used as a general forum for raising concerns about aspects of telecommunications services where those concerns are not specific to the choice of the site under consideration. This process has succeeded for more than 99% of transmission tower installations in Canada. We can embrace and utilize this process to articulate our specific concerns about each tower proposal on Cortes Island, or we can attempt to hijack the process and to use it as a forum for expressing other general concerns.
We do have a choice.
I do have a telecommunications background, primarily in data communications, of 3 ½ decades, in many different roles, including operations, planning, budgeting, technical support, and management. The telecom environment is complex, but it has been complex and changing fairly rapidly now for many years. There are a lot of experienced personnel who can help to guide us through this evolution, and there are proven processes in place which have worked well so far, to protect our health and public safety, while taking into account public concerns about infrastructure placement. I hope this process works out well for us.