Despite the ire of some nearby residents, it was “third time lucky” for Freedom Mobile as its bid to install a cell tower at 5154 Sooke Rd. finally got the support of Sooke council .
Cypress Land Services, acting for the cellphone company, is proposing a 45-metre-tall monopine communication tower as part of a recently launched wireless network in Greater Victoria.
The company said it requires the installation to ensure continuous service in Sooke.
It’s the company’s third attempt to get support from Sooke district council for the installation, and little changed in this application as compared to prior requests.
Freedom representatives told councillors the proposed location moved approximately five meters to the west to make it less visible to neighbours and that the design of the pole changed from a monopole to a monopine construction. Monopine poles are disguised to resemble tall evergreen trees and are meant to blend into the surrounding forest.
“It’s ridiculous that they can keep on applying on an annual basis to put the tower there,” Stephan Saunders, an area resident, said.
“Last year they applied and it was turned down unanimously, and here they are trying again.”
Saunders complaint arises over the possible devaluation of his property.
He’s trying to sell his property, but when potential buyers learn of the possible cell tower, they withdrew their offer to purchase. Saunders said.
The question of property value devaluation is far from settled.
Financial Consulting Group, Tom. J. & Associates, Kieth, last year published a study showing “no definite link between cell towers and decreasing property values.” That matches a similar study by a series of other firms, including Albridge Property Advisors in 2018 who said cell towers had no measurable negative effect on property values.
Another issue raised by Saunders and his neighbours involved potential health hazards related to cell towers.
Here the issue is less clear cut as researchers are divided on the issue.
Health Canada acknowledges studies have cited a “possible link” between the RF energy generated by towers and some health issues, but notes the “vast majority of scientific research to date does not support a link.”
Other studies, including one by the Ramazzini Institute ( a non-governmental non-profit society), contend that a risk of cancer does exist. Some of those studies were accused of bias and questionable scientific methodology.
Still, in his presentation to council, Saunders repeated his assertion of ample evidence that RF radiation from cell towers poses a health risk, although he did not cite any studies.
Colin Laverly, speaking for Freedom Mobile, noted the radiation from the cell towers was less than one per cent of the allowable federal limits as set out by Health Canada.
Another factor considered by council came from Sooke Fire Chief Kenn, who noted improved cell coverage into current dead zones would serve to enhance public safety by increasing access to 911 calls.
Council agreed to send a letter of concurrence on the proposal to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which has final approval for the project.