EDITORIAL: Education on cell towers needed

There are serious and legitimate concerns, but they need to be both raised and addressed appropriately, co-operateively and with good information.

Telus is encountering opposition from residents for the second time in recent months over a proposal to build a cellular communications tower.

In February, vocal outcry from Hammond Bay-area residents led to the Regional District of Nanaimo board rejecting a Telus proposal for a tower on public land. Regional directors not only rejected the plan, but agreed not to consider any tower proposal near a school.

While residents hailed the decision as a victory, Telus is now looking into private land possibilities to site its tower, which it maintains is necessary to fill coverage gaps along the Hammond Bay corridor.

In short, the tower is likely to go up in the same neighbourhood sometime soon.

A tower proposal in Cedar is meeting similar opposition, after the News Bulletin published a story about the plan.

Area residents are worried about the impact of the tower on the neighbourhood, as well as potential long-term health effects on children and residents.

They’re also unhappy with the consultation process – because the area is mostly rural, Telus did not plan a public hearing and instead sent letters to residents in the immediate area informing them of the plan and asking for input.

But given the obvious level of concern over such towers, what’s needed is clear and open communication about plans for new towers, as well as an equally clear and open campaign to educate the general public about the real risks and the accepted safety standards.

What’s not productive is fear and opposition based on misinformation or lack of information. Cell towers already exist almost anywhere people can travel, and as the Hammond Bay situation proves, they aren’t going away.

There are serious and legitimate concerns, but they need to be both raised and addressed appropriately, co-operatively and with good information.