By Christine Lyon – South Delta Leader

Published: May 25, 2012 3:00 PM

On Monday (May 28) Delta council is expected to consider the installation of telecommunications equipment on the rooftop of a Tsawwassen seniors’ residence.

Telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent is proposing to install three cellular antennas, three microwave dishes and an equipment cabinet on top of the Waterford building on 56 St. to increase wireless coverage for cellular phone service provider Wind Mobile.

Delta municipal staff are recommending that council endorse the issuance of a development permit for the installation, but also note the proposal has been met with some public resistance.

According to a report by Delta’s Community Planning and Development Department, a petition with 64 names has been submitted noting opposition to the telecommunications installations due to health and safety concerns.

In addition, Delta has received comments from 24 residents, 19 of whom expressed concerns primarily relating to health and safety.

Tsawwassen resident and spokesperson for MAPP (Mothers Against Power Poles) Heather Colls told the Leader she would be concerned if her parents were living at the Waterford.

“The EMF (electromagnetic field) is increasing all around us. We’ve got power lines around us, we’ve got smart metres around us, we’ve got cell phones around us,” she said. “Research out there says that EMF is especially harmful to the elderly and to young people.”

“There’s many documented research studies out there that say that you shouldn’t have high EMF, especially around residential areas and schools,” she added.

If Alcatel-Lucent must erect cell phone antennas, Colls says she would prefer to see them installed along a highway, away from residential buildings.

Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent says the proposed installation will comply with Industry Canada health and safety requirements.


Rodney Vaughan, a professor in the School of Engineering Science at SFU, says there is “scant evidence” in scientific literature that points to explicit heath effects from cellular radiowaves.

“I have not seen convincing scientific evidence that a cell station is physically harmful to residents in this type of situation, at least purely from the emitted radiowaves,” he said.

Vaughan added that the fields from a cell phone with the antenna next to the head can impose higher radiowave power levels than a typical cellular base station.

“However, we usually have choice as to how much we use a cell phone, whereas the presence of a base station is out of our control, and this sort of thing may have an impact of course,” he said.

The roof of the Waterford is already home to a Bell repeater.

Delta’s Telecommunications Tower and Antenna Policy states that residential areas should be avoided. The municipal staff report says Alcatel-Lucent explored alternative locations, but they were all deemed unsuitable. The company did, however, comply with other aspects of the policy, such as placing new equipment atop existing structures.

When it comes to design, the equipment will be shrouded by fiberglass which will be painted to match the existing building. The installation will also be set back from the edge of the roof so it is not visible from ground level.

Alcatel-Lucent sent a letter to surrounding property owners last October advising of the proposal and hosted a public information meeting April 19 to present the details.

Ladner and Tsawwassen are currently not included in the Wind Mobile network map, but the area is on the company’s planned expansion list.