LETTER:County needs more robust cell tower policy

I have heard this next phrase far too often: There’s nothing we can do about the Cell Towers because the Federal Government has the final say.

This is wrong. There is something to be done. If the Council of 2023 amends and strengthens PD 320 Location of Communications Tower Policy, March 2021, you can be proud you have protected the people you represent. Instead you can say: Because we have Amended the Cell Tower Policy; The County now has the first say.

Council is letting Rogers dictate where Cell Towers can be placed. They’ve been given the key to the County. Stop this now!

Often civic leaders believe they have no voice when it comes to tower location. Industry Canada believes any concerns or suggestions expressed by the Land Use Authorities (The County) are important elements for proponents.

This is a grey area with Municipalities but they are encouraged to use the Federal Government template, and when doing so for simplicity’s sake, creates a policy to represent, in our case, The County cell tower policy. Here lies the problem! The County’s Policy for Cell Tower Location is minimal at best. Local requirements for towers above 15 metres which Proponents such as Rogers are to address and then are expected to conduct a consultation process and send letters to notify those in the affected zone. They are required to respond to questions, concerns or complaints and are to forward this information to Industry Canada and the Municipality. That is it!

A robust tower policy is not incorporated into the County of Prince Edward’s Official Plan and should be incorporated into cell tower policy PD320. In less than a year, the present Tower Policy has been applied to identical circumstances by The County resulting in both a non-approval (Closson Rd.) and an approval (Georges Rd./CR15).

The elderly residents of Georges Road and CR15 will be placed closer to the prematurely approved Rogers Tower which didn’t follow a process.

Human Health may be affected due to the inadequacies of the current Policy, and lack of federal suggested exclusions. Residential and industrial areas, schools and daycares as well as roadside locations mentioned in the Official Plan are suggested as applicable exclusions to preserve the unique landscapes. The cell tower policy establishes setback limits similar to those of Hastings Highlands of 1000 meters from residents, not the inadequate 128 meters currently existing in the Rogers approval.

Concerns of constituents from Georges Road were not supported on February 28 by council.The Mayor, knowing all the circumstances, in my opinion should have acted on our behalf to rescind approval. No motion to take action was considered by any Council member. I requested to return on March 14, 2023 to formally request a Motion to Reconsider and this was refused by the County Clerk’s Office.

Rogers/Landsquared twice failed to follow mandatory federal procedure regarding notification to all residents. 89 per cent of residents spoken to did not receive the first notification of a tower proposal. Numerous residents did not receive the second notification. In the second notification, only 20-days were allowed to submit comments when it should have been 30.

The end result is a premature approval by the County.

The Tower location at Georges and CR15 is already a dangerous traffic intersection. An eastbound sign states,”hidden intersection” but summer tree leaves create a hidden Westbound hazard. There have been many close calls from speeding cars from both the east bend and west bend road features and the hill of CR15. To avoid this hazard intersection some Georges Road residents will travel to the crescent’s west exit to turn left. This hazard coupled with the additional Tower distraction has been disregarded by the municipality.

We understand our municipal council has a number of things on their agendas. That recognized, when something as important as the health and welfare of their Constituents is concerned, one would expect due diligence would be done on the Council’s part. Constituents would expect to receive well timed notifications regarding something as important as a 70m (22 storey tall) 4G/5G cell tower in their neighbourhood.

It is imperative the residents be able to question or understand the ramifications of such a dramatic addition to their surroundings. It is also expected that their questions would be answered in a reasonable amount of time with transparency and accountability. That is not the case.

The residents who would be serviced by this tower have expressed their satisfaction with Cell Phone and Wifi reception. They can wait for the fibre optics expected in the near future. They don’t want or need the tower in their neighbourhood. In matters such as these, strict compliance with the enabling legislation must be followed. The process was flawed because the notice provisions were not followed.

The basic tenet of natural law is the doctrine of fairness.

Mark Corbin