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Municipalities and industry fill void left by Conservatives on cell phone towers

Posted by Geoff Regan on March 1, 2013 | No Comments

geoff-reganThere is a paradox in Canada’s ever growing cell phone market.  Millions of Canadians want better cell phone coverage yet many do not want cell towers in their neighbourhoods. The only way to solve this seeming impasse is to ensure that communities are fully engaged in the process of siting a new tower. For years Industry Canada has had a Default Public Consultation Process in place, but as technology changed that document became stale.

Over the past several years I have received a growing number of complaints about towers just less than 15 meters in height being erected in neighbourhoods across the country. This is an important figure because towers under 15 meters are deliberately excluded from the consultation process required by Industry Canada. As a result Canadians often received no notice and had no say over where these towers were installed in their communities.

That is why it was so heartening to see the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association develop a new protocol template for antenna siting. I was pleased to attend one of the discussions held in Halifax while the protocol was being developed so that I could raise some of the concerns I’d been hearing from constituents. Now, not only will towers under 15 meters receive a public notice and consultation in participating communities, but also additions to existing towers will be subject to a public consultation if new modifications are less than Industry Canada’s 25% height  increase threshold.

There was clearly public demand for this kind of change and there was clearly a willingness on the part of wireless companies to work with Canadians to improve the process. The question is why was the federal government so absent from a file that is clearly its responsibility?

Geoff Regan

Liberal Critic for Industry and Consumer Affairs

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  1. Avatar of Mary Mary said on

    Thank you for such an informative article.

    These towers springing out of nowhere practically overnight have been a great concern in family neighbourhoods.

    It will be decades before we know if they cause any health problems.

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  2. Avatar of Doug Doug said on

    I find this post by Geoff Regan interesting. Municipalities in Ontario determine the height of any structure within residential areas within their zoning by-laws. For example, in my municipality, the zoning by-law states that the maximum height of “any building or structure” is 35 feet or 10.66 metres.

    This allows a residential property owner to erect a tower adjacent to any building on his or her residential property for communication purposes without having to apply for a special permit or variance within the municipality.

    Ham Radio operators have been using towers for this purpose all across Ontario for many decades. Towers used for wireless line-of-sight broadband connectivity are also permitted under the zoning by-law provided they are no taller than 35′ (10.66 metres).

    Our municipality (in Ontario) has not received any notification regarding a requirement for public notice and consultation with respect to erection of communication towers under 15 metres in height.

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