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Neighbours protest planned Hillcrest cell tower
A small group of citizens concerned about the effects of a cell phone tower planned for the Hillcrest area blocked an easement Thursday morning, complicating access for crews trying to work at the site.
"We are doing this because we do not believe people are informed about the hazards of these towers and the frequencies and electromagnetic radiation they emit," said Jean Olsen, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1983. "I'm concerned about the effects on my grandchildren and all the other little people who go to school and live near here and do not have a voice."
The cell tower is proposed to be sited on private property at 2391 20th Ave. SE, which is owned by Don Gona.
Hillcrest Elementary school is located a few blocks away from the Gona's acreage property.
While the neighbours believed the cell transmitter was being installed that morning, Gona told the Observer the crews were there to check on the sighting plans. Gona said the cell tower would not be a new addition to the area, but would be placed on the current BC Hydro steel tower already in the neighbourhood.
To access the property from a different location than was blocked by parked cars, the work crews removed a section of the Gona's wire fence. The crews still could not reach the steel tower with a lift truck due to the sloped topography of the land. Instead individual employees could be seen working at the power poles.
Gona attended a meeting Wednesday night regarding the erection of cell towers in Canoe and Hillcrest. He said the meeting was entirely one-sided against cell towers.
"I've studied this myself and from what I have read, the emissions are less than radio or TV towers. If I though there would be any health problems from this, I wouldn't live this close to it myself or allow it to be on my property."
Gona has not yet made a deal with the company, he said, acknowledging that he would be compensated financially if the tower is placed on the hydro easement on his land. He would not comment as to when he might make a decision or when the proposed installation might take place.
"My neighbours have turned against me," he said. "And if they are going to push me, I'm going to push back."
Olsen would like to see the city bring in its own bylaws to require due process on proposed cell tower sites.
"I'm not saying don't bring them in, but they need to do it where it is safer, in isolated areas. This would be much better up on the side of the mountain," said Olsen, gesturing to the back side of Mt. Ida in the background.
"This is not the right place for this," she said. "It's upset a lot of people and now neighbours are turned into enemies."
For more on this story, see Wednesday's Observer print edition.