Sooke rejects plan for cell tower

Freedom Mobile wants to build 50-metre tower

Cellphone reliability remains a problem in some areas of Sooke, but the municipality doesn’t believe a new telecommunications tower is the answer.

Sooke council has voted against supporting an application by Freedom Mobile to build a 50-metre tower in the 5000 block of Sooke Road.

Mayor Maja Tait, who voted against the application at Monday’s council meeting, said the towers could be built without Sooke’s approval, but that wouldn’t be ideal.

“I do appreciate what Freedom is trying to do in terms of service,” she said. “The challenge is the impact it has on the neighbourhood.”

Freedom Mobile is launching 3G and LTE networks in multiple markets across Canada. The Sooke tower would allow for continuous coverage to customers along Sooke Road from the town centre eastward toward Victoria.

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.

Several Glinz Road residents oppose the application, citing health, aesthetics, and property value signs. They also presented a 20-name petition against the tower’s construction to council.

Coun. Kerrie Reay was the only councillor who supported the Freedom Mobile application. She pointed out several people on social media backed the tower proposal.

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.”

“I think dependency on cellphones has become critical in today’s society,and for many people in Sooke and across the nation, people no longer need land lines.”” she said, adding Sooke has 49 telecommunication towers in the district, including two on top of Municipal Hall.

Coun. Brenda Parkinson suggested the the cell towers should be located in areas that don’t affect people or neighbourhoods.

Coun. Bev Berger said as a local municipality, all Sooke council could do was advocate to the federal government.

“It be more beneficial for Industry Canada to hear what the residents have to say rather than us. We have no jurisdiction.”

klaird@blackpress.ca