Cedar residents upset about proposed cell tower

Cedar residents Helena Lines, left, and Sandi Tobin stand near a communications tower on Yellow Point Road. The women are opposing the proposed construction of a new communications tower near their homes in Cedar’s Woobank Road area. - CHRIS BUSH The News Bulletin
Cedar residents Helena Lines, left, and Sandi Tobin stand near a communications tower on Yellow Point Road. The women are opposing the proposed construction of a new communications tower near their homes in Cedar’s Woobank Road area.
— image credit: CHRIS BUSH The News Bulletin

Cedar residents are concerned about a proposed Telus cellular tower on Woobank Road and say more consultation is needed about the plan.

Helena Lines, a resident of the lakeside community in Cedar, said she’s angry about the proposed location and the lack of consultation with residents. She canvassed the area recently and said many didn’t know about the plan to construct a tower.

“Everyone is pretty upset. None of them are happy with what is going on,” she said. “None of the families knew and they were all shocked, especially the people with children.”

Some residents have received letters from Telus about the tower, she said, but fears some might have thrown the letter away thinking it was junk mail.

Telus plans to construct a 60-metre wireless communication tower at 1710 Woobank Rd. to fill in a service gap in the area.

The plan is part of a $21.5-million investment in Nanaimo in 2011. It includes a tower in the Hammond Bay area. The proposed Hammond Bay tower was to be constructed on the Regional District on Nanaimo’s Pollution Control Centre property. However, the RDN rejected the proposal in the face of public opposition. Telus is currently talking to private land owners about placing the tower in the area.

Shawn Hall, a Telus spokesman, said because Cedar is a rural area, the company isn’t planning on a public hearing. But Telus welcomes input from residents and is always happy to talk to people about their concerns.

“We have been engaging in an appropriate consultation process,” he said.

The company has advertised about the tower in newspapers and sent letters to residents in the vicinity of the tower.

According to the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission, the company is required to send out letters to residents within three times the height of the tower, about a 180-metre radius. He said Telus sent out several more letters than needed to ensure people were informed.

Lines said the lack of a public hearing makes residents feel they've been dismissed. She’s tried to get in touch with Telus contacts listed on the letter, but said so far she has gotten the run-around.

Hall said only one call has been made to the 1-800 number listed on the letter in the last two weeks and it was a resident concerned about whether trees would be cut down and if it would affect the property's well. So far the company has only received one complaint by e-mail, he added.

Sandi Tobin, a resident of Rugg Road in Cedar, said she’s worried about the potential health effects on people and animals in the area.

“We are all up in arms. We are not happy about it,” said Tobin. “It’s about health and quality of life. It’s why we moved to the rural areas.”

She said there isn’t enough information about the long-term health effects on humans, especially children.

Hall said that there have been exhaustive studies about the health effects of cell towers by Health Canada and the existing safety regulations remain appropriate and protect human health.

“There is a lot of hysterical information out there if you Google the Internet – it can be scary,” he said, adding that people should turn to legitimate studies, such as those conducted by Health Canada.

Tobin has arranged for a public meeting to be held Monday (April 18) at the Tamagawa Gakuen of Canada Society's Nanaimo campus, located at 2677 Holden Corso Rd, starting at 7 p.m.

Residents have until Friday (April 22) to provide official feedback to Telus.

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