One cell tower’s rejection is another’s approval

Sooke council backs plan for Otter Road telecommunications tower

In a little over two months, Sooke council has gone from rejecting a proposed Freedom Mobile telecommunications tower in one part of the district to approving another.

Mayor Maja Tait broke a 3-3 tie on Monday to support the installation of a 50-metre tower in the 2600 block of Otter Point Road.

“It’s challenging because I know some of our residents don’t want to host this, but I also know a lot depend on the service,” she said.

In July, council rejected a similar bid to construct a telecommunications tower in the in the 5000 block of Sooke Road.

Freedom Mobile is launching 3G and LTE networks in multiple markets across Canada.

Freedom is required by Industry Canada to consult with land use authorities in siting new wireless mobile base station tower locations. Industry Canada makes the decision whether the telecommunications tower will be built.

Most neighbours on Sooke Road and Otter Point Road oppose the applications, citing health, aesthetics, and property value declines. They also presented petitions against the tower’s construction to council.

“None of this is within our statutory authority. It’s not like we adopted a bylaw or a policy that’s going to affect somebody. It’s just going through an input process. The decision-making authority is beyond us,” said Coun. Rick Kasper.

Kasper and Tait rejected the Sooke Road tower mainly due to aesthetics, and both said they take each application on a site-by-site basis. Most councillors backed Health Canada data on the health safety of cell towers, despite residents’ concerns of health risks.

Kasper said when the Otter Point plan was brought to council, Freedom Mobile complied with the demands of council.

In a report to council, Freedom Mobile said the Otter Point telecommunications tower is 1,000 per cent lower than the prescribed limits set by Health Canada for exposure, and the sight lines of the tower are “significantly minimized” by existing tree cover.

“The addition of the proposed site and launch of Freedom Mobile’s network in the Greater Victoria area (including Sooke) will provide an additional choice for wireless consumers with access to lower rates,” the report stated.

Coun. Kerrie Reay was the only member of council to back both telecommunication towers.

In researching data, Reay said websites from the Canadian Cancer Society to the World Health Organization suggested health concerns were minimal.

“I’m trying to step back and take the emotional side out of it,” she said. “I just feel with everything I’ve read and all the various sites … I do support what’s requested to council by Freedom Mobility.”

klaird@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Saanich artist brightens pandemic with whimsical signs

Artist Anna Trelford decorates her fence with signs that riff on COVID-19 pandemic

Man who bound, murdered Langford teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Traffic redirected after crash on McKenzie Avenue

Saanich Police responded to Thursday evening collision

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria was set for August

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read