Public pressure topples proposed cell tower that would have loomed near elementary school
Telus’s plan to fill service gap on Hammond Bay Road delayed over fear about potential health impact
Derek Spalding, Daily News
Directors from the Regional District of Nanaimo nixed plans to erect a Telus cellular phone tower on its Hammond Bay Road property.
The communication company offered $24,000 to the RDN for the proposed
43-metre tower that was intended to be put up near the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre, but that offer was turned down.
Telus planned to conduct a consultation process with the public to hear concerns, but there was loud opposition, coupled with people’s fear of the possible negative effects of long-term exposure to high-frequency radiation waves. Nearby residents vehemently opposed the tower, largely because of its close proximity to Hammond Bay Elementary School, but some of the protestors were unnecessarily vulgar toward Telus, said one spokesman.
Several parents vowed to pull their students from the school if the RDN reached an agreement with Telus. Those parents subscribe to ideas put forward in some studies that claim health effects for some people living within 200 metres of tower.
Many groups, however, refer to these studies as “junk” science.
“The message to Telus simply is that neighbourhoods will be interested in future locations of communication towers such as this,” said Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan. “Those wishing to build the towers will have to take that into consideration.”
The directors unanimously voted to kill the tower plans, largely to be cautious about the possible health implications of living too close to such radio waves.
Not everyone is impacted by the radiation, but research is demonstrating that the closer people live to the antenna, the more likely they are to experience difficulties, according to some experts.
Statements from Health Canada indicate that typical radio frequency levels coming from cell phone towers are “thousands of times below the limits for public exposure.”
“While there’s no studies that can definitively say no harm will come as a result of exposure, our decision is an exercise in caution,” said Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime.
Telus will continue to look for another site for its tower.
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