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RDN opposes Telus wireless tower proposed for Cedar

A Telus cell tower proposal in Cedar was opposed by Regional District of Nanaimo directors last week.

The RDN board passed two motions last week regarding the 60-metre wireless communication tower, proposed to be constructed at 1710 Woobank Rd.

The board agreed to write to Industry Canada stating it was opposed to the tower placement and asking it to deny the application. Directors also agreed to create a cell tower placement protocol.

Sandi Tobin, a resident of Rugg Road in Cedar, has led the fight against the proposal since she learned of it in April.

“This was very good news,” said Tobin. “I am pleased as punch because we didn’t have this before. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Tobin said she’s also happy about the protocol, because one person (or company) should not dictate the health of everyone in the community. She added there are too many unknowns about the technology.

“They gamble with our lives,” she said.

Rhys Lewis, a resident opposed to the tower and creator of the opposition’s website www.stoptelustower.com, said he was ecstatic about the decision.

“I really feel like the local government process has worked and we’ve had our concerns listened to and appropriately considered,” he said.

Lewis said he’s optimistic Industry Canada will carefully consider the matter and deny the application based on the opposition.

Joe Stanhope, RDN board chairman, said cell tower issues have been a recurring issue the last several months.

The RDN rejected a Telus proposal last spring to build a tower on Nanaimo’s Pollution Control Centre property in the face of public opposition. However, the Woobank Rd. tower is on private land and the RDN doesn’t have the power to deny the application.

Stanhope said there was enough concern from residents that the board decided to take action, adding the RDN will look to senior governments to look into the issue and help the district out.

One of the main reasons for the board’s opposition to the tower was resident’s health concerns.

“The public has a legitimate reason to be concerned,” he said, although he added that residents also demand more services. “Let’s face it, everyone wants cellphone coverage, but how are we going to do that?”

It’s a demand for service that Telus hoped to address.

Shawn Hall, a Telus spokesman, said the tower is important to upgrade infrastructure because of growing local demand. He said there is pressure on the current infrastructure in Cedar and in a matter of months it could start to degrade.

“Demand for wireless service is just exploding in Canada,” he said.

Hall said Telus respects the RDN’s decision, but said it’s unfortunately based on misinformation about the health effects of the technology. Safety Code 6, which governs the technology, is one of the most conservative wireless codes anywhere in the world, he added.

“It was based on unfortunate misinformation and really goes in the face of the public demand,” said Hall.  “Based on the available science, Canadians have nothing to worry about as long as Safety Code 6 is abided by.”

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