New Tower Issues

Seems the government caved on its policy that cell towers under 15 meters do not require public (or municipal) notification before installation.DSCF2059

The February 5th IC announcement can be found here.

While the announcement only affects the erection of cell towers, there’s no reason to think that aggravated neighbours and frustrated municipal officials may well attempt to drag Amateur Radio towers into the discussion.

Fortunately we have Radio Amateurs of Canada’s vice president of regulatory affairs Glenn MacDonell standing up for us and issuing a press release stating “RAC does not believe this policy change announcement was generated by problems caused by the Amateur Radio community.”

To which I say “duh” of course not it was due to public pressure about cell towers. Read the government’s press release.

MacDonell goes on to say RAC is going to speak in the strongest of terms to IC that no changes be made in tower siting rules as they may affect existing Amateur Radio antenna installations.

To which I say “serious” dude?

The issue isn’t about existing structures erected on private property but about the possible use of this new policy to thwart the installation of new structures under 15 meters in communities across Canada.

You see when I was installing my tower about 10 years ago, IC made it pretty clear that Amateur Radio operators had to advise their neighbours of the pending installation. Of course neighbours who objected (and I had two who did) were outraged when they discovered they had no say in the final outcome.

After requesting help from RAC (which was immediate and effective) and speaking with my town’s engineering department (The chief of which made it perfectly clear that if I didn’t exceed 15 meters, the town would have absolutely no interest in my installation.) I proceeded to gather documentation which I presented to IC’s Burlington office and the town’s engineering department (thus anticipating visits to those offices by my neighbours) that supported my installation of my legal and approved tower.

So the tower went up and relations with my neighbours fell to the point that I had to call police on one of them after a series of harassing events took place. The other neighbour (who I subsequently learned had substance abuse issues) went insane and sent us a series of very disturbing letters.

Can’t tell you how upsetting this was to my wife who had great expectations about living a peaceful life in her new house. Thanks a bunch IC.

Some months after I publicized my experiences, IC changed their policy to say we no longer had to consult with our neighbours so long as we stayed within municipal policies. Of course policies aren’t laws and are really difficult to challenge but I can live with a 15-meter limit if I have to. How I wish they’d made this decision before I erected my tower.

Now we have RAC defending us by speaking in the strongest terms. Really?

Do we know the name of the minister? Have we actually had an annual meeting with the minister in the living memory? How about meetings with deputy ministers or assistant deputy ministers or the guy who take out the garbage?

Can you imagine the reaction to our claims of speaking in the strongest terms?

This sounds a lot like the response to the texting while driving response by RAC which I took up here in Ontario when I was on the executive.

It gets worse.

Cell towers are shrinking!

The more cell towers in a neighbourhood, the more efficient the cell system (And everyone, even the protesters have cellphones). If you’ve got just one cell tower that services your area, then every cell phone competes for a connection to that one tower. This means power levels on cell phones (which vary power depending on signal strength) run at full output thus wasting batteries and heightening fears of health issues and cell service is adversely affected.

Communities where there are lots of cell phone receiving structures have superior cell phone service and units which work with the least power output possible and can always get a connection.

So with public fears rampant, cell companies are steering away from erecting big iron towers and are going to smaller units that can be installed in parking lots and are less than 30 feet in height making them almost invisible to shoppers.

So what we need right now are fewer press releases from RAC obviously aimed at pacifying the Canadian Amateur Radio community and more real meetings with Industry Canada and officials at all levels of government on an ongoing basis.

Let’s face it. We’re just not well organized at all. Do you really think the government has any interest in paying attention to a bunch of old Sparkies who they’ve never met and don’t know and have no voting muscle let alone built-up goodwill for deeds well done in the past?

On the other hand community groups opposed to cell phone towers are vocal and well organized. (Most don’t wear their tin-foil hats to meetings anymore.)

In the link above the C4ST group from Oakville, Ontario had their hand in defeating a proposal to erect a cell tower at an auto shop on Lakeshore Road just west of another site which was abandoned by Bell Canada after a previous loud bitter protest.

Check out the C4ST site.

It features a photo of the property in question (which I bet helped scuttle the deal) and a long summary of events (as seen from the C4ST point of view) and hyperlinks to a ton of very questionable pronouncements about the dangers of cell phones and any sort of radiation.

Anyone without an understanding about how radiation works (You get more radiation from your TV or microwave than your cell phone and don’t even start to compare it to being outside on a sunny day.) this propaganda will scare the crap out of you.

More links follow including the emails, addresses and phone numbers for every imaginable politician and “Mike” the landowner (bet he was thrilled). Checkout their Cell Tower Kit for an example of what we could be doing.

I was the VP of a national PR firm and let me tell you this is propaganda at the highest level and the result of a top-notch effort to create a national group to pressure government to change the rules. Somebody spent some cash on this site (unlike the RAC site which was old, tired and broken when I was on the executive.).

Of course the good news is we have our RAC and their plans to speak in the strongest possible language.

We can sleep tonight.

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This entry was posted in RAC by Peter West. Bookmark the permalink.

About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

One thought on “New Tower Issues

  1. HI Peter I agree with you.. As a commercial tower owner, with several commercial licenses , I went through the hoops with IC, municipalites, county, cottage associations, when I wanted to stick up some 350ft towers.. I emailed Glenn , never got a reply.. I guess he does not know the difference between a commercial application, from Bell or Rogers, as I doubt that we dont have two many amateurs erecting a 200ft tower, and if they do , I am sure they know the rules.. Why bother IC, this will only wake them up?? Russ Ve3fi

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