Tempe neighbours fear cell tower

Microwaves from proposed tower concern


Ralph Johnstone’s cellphone may work better when new antennas are installed on a tower in his Tempe Heights neighbourhood in North Vancouver, but the location — near where Johnstone is standing — overlooks a playground and he is concerned about the effect of microwaves.

Photograph by: Mike Wakefield, NEWS photo

Residents of the Tempe Heights area of North Vancouver are broadcasting their concerns over a proposed cell tower slated for their neighbourhood.

Communications giant Rogers proposes to erect a 41-metre pole that will hold up to six panel antennas and one round dish antenna on the Highway 1 right of way at the end of Tempe Glen Drive.

Across the street from the proposed site is the park where Ralph Johnstone takes his grandchildren to play, and he’s worried that scientists might not fully understand the impact the microwave frequencies in the area of the tower will have on the kids on the playground.

“Way back when X-rays were kind of an unknown, eventually it turned out that was pretty bad (for people),” he said. “We don’t want to be sitting here finding out that that’s really bad stuff.”

Johntone has delivered a petition with 74 signatures on it to Rogers, raising concerns about the sightliness, the effect on property values and the perceived lack of consultation with most homeowners in the area.

“Everybody from just Tempe Knoll there headed north is going to have a grandstand view of the tower,” he said. “Everybody we spoke to was totally opposed to it.”

Rogers sent a public notification to homes within a radius three times the height of the tower as required by legislation, as well as some beyond that scope. However, Johnstone’s home wasn’t within that radius and he said only a handful of those he spoke to had received a package.

Rogers spokeswoman Sara Holland said the site was one of several identified by the company that could improve service in a poorly served area along the Trans Canada Highway and the Tempe neighbourhood, but the other locations were turned down by the landowners — in this case the City of North Vancouver — and the Ministry of Transportation.

“Our customers want to be connected at any time and any place and their needs are changing,” Holland said via email.

The transmission tower meets Health Canada’s regulations. Scientific literature listed by Health Canada has found no danger of health impacts from that level of radiation. A spokesperson for Health Canada pointed the North Shore News to its website, which states “worst-case RF (radio frequency) exposure levels emitted from cellphone towers are typically thousands of times below those specified by science-based exposure standards.”

This is the second tower of this type to be proposed along the Highway 1 right of way. Another proposal was made public a month ago for a tower near Taylor Way in West Vancouver.

Linda Gold, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transportation, said there has been a spike in the number of applications for cellphone towers on ministry land. “As the CRTC has allowed more cellular providers we have seen more of these types of applications.”

Gold said new phones require more bandwidth and that carriers are trying to address dead spots in their networks.

Currently, neither the ministry nor the City of North Vancouver have any policies relating to the placement of telecommunications towers, but Gold said that’s not a current concern.

She said companies are required to meet roadside safety standards, provide safe access to the construction and consult the local municipality, but that the ministry leaves public consultation to the installing company.

Mayor Darrell Mussatto said the city has held public meetings in the past about this issue, but the federal government can override any local decision on telecommunications towers.

“We can’t say no,” he said, but in the same breath added he wouldn’t ignore the towers, particularly in this case. “We might have a little bit more opportunity to encourage more consultation, because they have to go through our land to get to it.”

The design of the tower hasn’t been finalized or approved as of yet. Following the submission of the petition, Rogers agreed to extend the consultation period until Feb. 11.

No public meeting is required in the consultation, however proponents are required to respond to “reasonable” concerns provided in writing, though concerns over health and property values aren’t within the boundaries of the process. Submissions can be sent to Kiersten Enemark at Standard Land Company, agents for Rogers, via email at [email protected].

Further information on the consultation process and regulations is available at www.ic.gc.ca/antenna.

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

Read more: http://www.nsnews.com/news/Tempe+neighbours+fear+cell+tower/4081655/story.html#ixzz1CqCfZ5C0