Duncan Coun. Tom Duncan said at a recent council meeting that if the city doesn’t have a cell-phone policy, it would be like the wild west in the municipality when considering applications for them. (File photo)

Duncan Coun. Tom Duncan said at a recent council meeting that if the city doesn’t have a cell-phone policy, it would be like the wild west in the municipality when considering applications for them. (File photo)

City of Duncan approves new cell tower policy

Rogers Communications has applied to install tower on city land

The City of Duncan has a new policy that will govern the siting, consultation requirements and other issues for telecommunications towers within the municipality.

The new policy, which was adopted at a recent council meeting, includes how far cell towers should be constructed away from residences, and the radius around the proposed new tower in which the proponent will have to provide information packages to households about the project.

The new policy comes on the heels of an application from Rogers Communications to the city earlier this month which proposes to install a new cell phone tower on land owned by the City of Duncan at 1091 Marchmont Rd., where the city’s public works yard is located.

RELATED STORY: ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS LOOKS TO INSTALL CELL TOWER AT DUNCAN PUBLIC WORKS YARD

Brian Murphy, Duncan’s director of public works and engineering, made clear to council members that adopting the new policy doesn’t mean council is approving Rogers Communications’ cell tower, which is currently still in its public consultation process, and that the policy will apply to Rogers’ proposal.

“Rogers has made a request to send a delegation to our next council meeting to provide information on their proposal to install a cell tower on city-owned land,” he said.

The new policy states that the placement of cell towers in Duncan should not be in close proximity to residential developments.

The amount of space required between households and towers differ according to the height of the proposed cell towers, but the approximately 30-metre one that Rogers is proposing would have to be at least 75 metres away from dwellings.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN CONSIDERING HOSTING TWO NEW CELL TOWERS

Proponents of installing cell towers will be responsible for holding public information meetings on their plans, and will be required to post newspaper notices for general notification, and a direct mail-out package is required to residents within 300 metres of any proposed tower.

But Murphy pointed out that there are big differences between proposals to place cell towers on private and city-owned land.

“The city has the ultimate say on any proposals for cell towers on municipal land and could say yes or no at any time during the process,” he said.

“The city can offer statements of concurrence or non-concurrence for proposals on private land, but approval is ultimately up to Industry Canada and the city has no veto power over those projects.”

Murphy added that health concerns around cell towers fall under the federal jurisdiction of Health Canada, and that municipalities don’t have authority to regulate health and safety requirements related to antenna systems.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN DENIES APPLICATION FOR TWO NEW CELL TOWERS

Coun. Bob Brooke said he went online and found that there are currently 16 Telus towers in the city, and the one proposed by Rogers would be the company’s only one on municipal land if approved.

“Rogers is obviously trying to break into this market place,” he said.

“My understanding is there needs to be several towers to make a circuit, so approving this tower may not be the end of it.”

Coun. Garry Bruce said he’s very concerned about Rogers’ proposal for its cell tower, and that he’s hearing many negative comments from the neighbourhood.

“I think there will be a lot of push back from the community on this,” he said.

“What if we don’t want this tower at all? You say we already have 16 so what if we don’t want to increase that number?”

Coun. Tom Duncan replied that if the city doesn’t have a policy, it would be like the wild west in Duncan regarding towers.

“What we’re voting on today is to adopt this policy, not to say yes to Rogers’ tower, or any other towers,” he said.

“We’re just voting on this policy so we have rules to work with.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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