Salmon Arm will have its own personalized consultation policy on siting cell towers, but it won’t be quite what Citizens for Safe Technology had envisioned.
Back in October of last year, city council deferred a motion on ‘communication system location and consultation policy,’ pending a public input session in January. The deferred motion recommended that council recognize Industry Canada protocols to guide tower siting and consultation.
Council subsequently revisited the motion at its meeting of Monday, Feb. 10. The old motion was defeated and, in its place, a new one crafted by Coun. Alan Harrison was unanimously supported.
The new motion recognizes Industry Canada protocols – which were revised in July 2014 – just as the old one did, but will add two ‘made in Salmon Arm’ sections. One will be aesthetic guidelines regarding a tower’s structure. The other will detail consultation procedures so that everyone in the community – not just those who live nearby – will know of plans to erect a tower.
The motion will be finalized and voted on within three months.
Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, said two towers – the tower on the top of the Telus building and the one in the Domino’s Pizza/Subway parking lot – weren’t subject to Industry Canada’s consultation protocols, but would be if erected now under its revised guidelines.
Pearson emphasized that local governments don’t have a regulatory role regarding towers, Industry Canada does.
Councillors thanked Pearson and spoke at length about the issue.
Coun. Tim Lavery said he would like council to be notified of all transmitter installations, not just towers.
“If we don’t count it we can’t measure it,” he said.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said it’s important to assume that all levels of government care about citizens’ well-being and that information from citizens should be passed along to the other levels.
Coun. Ken Jamieson said the January public meeting was one of the best, and he would like council to continue its role as a conduit for information.
Coun. Kevin Flynn and others did not want to set up unrealistic expectations by acting as if council has the power to regulate cell tower emissions.
Coun. Chad Eliason said the city is, unfortunately, late in trying to shape Industry Canada protocols because the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and others were already consulted.
After the meeting, Ruth McLaren, a member of Citizens for Safe Technology, said the new policy will be a step in the right direction. She emphasized how far behind Industry Canada’s Safety Code 6 is compared to Europe’s guidelines for electro-magnetic radiation. She added she is pleased Lavery and Jamieson expressed interest in the monitoring of overall levels of electromagnetic radiation in the city.