Cell tower slated for Lantzville raises concerns

Wireless communications towers continue to be the centre of controversy in the Nanaimo area.

Wireless communications towers continue to be the centre of controversy in the Nanaimo area.

The latest tower proposal being met with community concerns is in Lantzville.

Rogers Communications wants a 40-metre wireless tower at 6826 Metro Rd., which says it will help fill in a coverage gap. The tower would be located about 3.5 kilometres from an existing Rogers tower.

“The proposed tower will address the rapidly growing demand for wireless coverage in Lantzville and along Highway 19,” said Marina Guy, a spokeswoman for Rogers Communications.

Infrastructure needs to be expanded to keep up with current and future needs, she said, noting that cellphones aren’t the only technology eating up wireless networks, laptops and tablets are also placing demands on the system.

Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime said council wants to hear public opinions on the tower.

Haime said he is personally concerned about wireless towers because of the ambiguous information regarding health effects and is wary of the phrase used by companies that there have been “no documented effects” from wireless towers.

“That concerns me, especially when they are put in close proximity to homes,” said Haime. “On the other side, you talk to people and they all have cellphones.”

Haime said there needs to be balance. He said the tower won’t be in proximity to a school, but is near residences and land zoned as residential which could be affected in the future.

Guy said Rogers follows Health Canada protocols and adheres to Safety Code 6, which governs wireless radiation exposure limits.

Council has asked Rogers to expand its consultation area beyond the mandated three times the height of the tower to 200 metres because of the rural nature of Lantzville and to include the Parklands Mobile Home Park and Philip Road.

The Rogers tower is the third to be proposed in the Nanaimo area within the last few months.

A Telus tower proposed for the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre land was rejected by the Regional District of Nanaimo in the face of public opposition. Telus is currently exploring options to build the tower on private land in the area.

A second Telus tower slated for Cedar, on private land along Woobank Road, is also facing neighbourhood opposition.

The company extended the consultation process until June 2 and Shawn Hall, Telus spokesman, said the correspondence received from businesses and residents is being reviewed and answered before the company decides what steps to take next.

Haime said unlike the Telus tower that was proposed for the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre, this tower wouldn’t be within 500 metres of a school. Also, because the tower isn’t on district land, the municipality doesn’t have the power to deny the location.

Guy said the company will deliver packages to businesses and residents within 200 metres of the tower, as requested by council.

Once the packages are received, residents will have 30 days to provide a response. After feedback is received, the company will review to see if further consultation is needed, said Guy.