Teresa Wright Published on March 16, 2009

Angry residents, politicians reorganize to fight cellphone tower decision

Local residents and politicians upset by a recent Industry Canada ruling allowing Rogers to build a cell tower close to their homes are organizing once again to oppose the tower’s construction.
A group of residents who successfully lobbied Charlottetown city council to unanimously vote against allowing the tower’s construction in an area off Mt. Edward Road met Sunday to decide their next action.
The residents are worried about negative health effects from the proposed tower’s radio waves.
“I’m worried about my health,” said Sister Rita Kelly of Mount St. Mary’s. “I don’t want electromagnetic waves so close to our building.”
City council voted last year not to allow Rogers to build a 47-metre cellphone tower in the area, which is close to UPEI, several schools and child care centres as well as numerous homes. But Rogers appealed the decision before Industry Canada. This federal body reviewed the case and decided the city’s concerns were unjustified.
“We have determined that the main thrust of the residents’ concerns are related to the perceived health impact,” said a letter from Industry Canada officials to the city.
“Our analysis has confirmed that the proposed installation will be in full compliance with Health Canada’s Safety Code.”
Now, residents and concerned Islanders who fought against this tower almost two years ago are disheartened to find they must continue a fight they thought they’d already won.
“I’m so mad I could spit,” said Gwen Young, whose home is only a few dozen metres from the proposed cell tower location.
“We did everything we were supposed to do and we’re at it again. I shouldn’t be so emotional about this but I am,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
She and other area residents are worried about the links some scientists have made to several types of cancer.
Catherine Mullally has been one of the most passionate lobbyists against the tower. She has binders filled with data about the negative health effects of electromagnetic waves that emanate from these kinds of towers.
“People who live close to antennas and cellphone antennas have a higher likelihood of developing cancer, especially leukemia,” Mullally said, citing a scientific study. “We are not against cellphones as such, we are just interested in preserving our health.”
City Coun. David MacDonald also attended the public meeting on Sunday. He said council is as shocked as residents are with Industry Canada’s decision to allow the tower to go ahead.
“City council has taken a bit of a hit these last two weeks by bodies that haven’t been elected that seem to overrule our decisions and we’re not real happy with that,” he said. “These people have no accountability, they just make the decision and move on to the next one and it’s hardly fair.”
MacDonald said council is talking to lawyers about how they can overturn the decision. Industry Canada has told the city the decision cannot be appealed, so council is looking into a possible judicial review.
“In this particular case, just because they have the ability to allow (Rogers’) appeal, doesn’t mean they were right to allow it.”
Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy was also at the meeting and is upset by the situation. He said he plans to write to federal Industry Minister Tony Clement to raise concern about his department’s decision.
“There has been no consultation between the Department of Industry and the people of Charlottetown and this decision was made by city council after an exhaustive review of the entire issue. I am taken aback that Rogers would come into the community and build the tower knowing full well that the residents of Charlottetown do not want it built in that location.”http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Regional/2009-03-16/article-1289117/Angry-residents,-politicians-reorganize-to-fight-cellphone-tower-decision/1