Council nixes cellular tower

District of Sooke council on June 25 decided they did not want a tower in the Sooke core area.

No one has had anything positive to say about a proposed radio tower to be erected in the middle of the Sooke town centre.

Alcatel-Lucent, an adjunct of Wind Mobile, is looking to lease land along Sooke Road for the tower.

Opposition is mounting and residents have sent letters and emails to the District of Sooke municipal office decrying the tower because of health concerns.

The building of such communications towers is a federal responsibility and not a local one. It is regulated and controlled by Industry Canada.

Gerard LeBlanc, municipal planner, stated that the federal government is not subject to local zoning bylaws or the Official Community Plan.

“We are not 100 per cent clear on whether use would be imposed,” said LeBlanc.

“I haven’t heard anyone with anything positive to say,” said Mayor Wendal Milne. “They come into the community and suggest they can do this is beyond me, it’s quite objectionable really.”

Any such construction would have to go through a public consultation process and council is set on sending a strongly-worded letter to the applicant to look for another suitable location for the tower.

Councillor Rick Kasper said “everyone is against it and people said to get it out of town.”

Coun. Maja Tait said she thought this was a joke. She said Sooke itself wouldn’t even benefit from it.

Many of the residents who sent in letters in opposition to the tower cited health concerns from the electromagnetic radiation. Some studies have shown short term effects from cell tower radiation include headaches, sleep disorders, poor memory, confusion, increased cancer risk, anxiety and other disorders.

Alcartel-Lucent states that they rely on Health Canada Safety Code 6 Standards.

Many cities and countries have prohibited cell phone base stations and antennas near school due to safety concerns. The proposed tower would be located at 6631 Sooke Road.

One resident came forward at the Committee of the Whole portion of the meeting to state that Alcartel-Lucent should look at doubling up with a telephone company that is building a communications tower at the Otter Point business park. Industry Canada require carriers to co-locate with each other wherever they can to reduce the number of towers in any given community.

In ending, Mayor Milne said, “If we don’t put up a big fight, the first thing you know they’re starting to build it.”

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