As I had mentioned in the meeting at the Sports Centre last week, a report is coming from staff. We don’t know what’s in that report and I will read it when it becomes available to not only me and the rest of council, but to the public as well.
Since receiving this information on March 1st, I have worked hard to facilitate educating the public on the process we need to follow. Given that there are different regulations on the public process on certain heights of these towers, I made sure that this was put out there for people to know. I posted it on my website and contacted to local media to make them aware of it as well. Shortly after the posting on my blog, the Champion wrote an article about it to make it public to everyone in town, not just our areas.
I have knocked on doors in my ward to first inform them of the proposal and then to educate them and me as to what they are thinking and how they feel. I have heard from a lot of people in Milton about this proposed tower. There has been a lot of information to digest over the last 2 months, I kid you not. From Health Canada to Brazil studies and everything in between my head has been spinning and I know some of my council colleagues have felt the same way.
I have talked with dozens of real estate agents in Milton to get an idea of potential impacts on property values. Some have said they’ll go up and some have said they’ll stay the same and a few said go down. Lots of information to digest in a short period of time. I’ve taken the time from my day to day schedule to meet with residents in coffee shops and on their front porches to discuss this. My other boss that I work for would rather I didn’t but to me, this is important.
I have probably driven many people crazy with me asking them about their opinions on cell towers in communities. I don’t step into a coffee shop without asking someone that question and even while out having a beer with friends watching the NHL Playoffs I ask these questions…so I can get an idea of what’s to come.
Altus Group has submitted their information to the town for review as did probably thousands of Miltonians to be put into a report that comes out in a day or so.
What I can tell you is I have heard from many people against this tower from day one and I have done my best to help promote the flow of information and to provide advice if asked on what the next steps will be. The Town of Milton doesn’t have the final say on this and I understand others will pull out the quote from Lisa Raitts staff’s email but from what I have been told when it comes to the final decision on this tower, it aint us. We can state our opinion and that might be enough to change minds but seeing how there have been towers erected in municipalities despite the opposition; it might not be enough to change. I can only promise that I and the rest of council will do our best to make the voices of the people we represent heard.
I can also tell you that I have heard from many people who DO support the tower. I can also tell people that when I visited them at the doors during the last 2 election campaigns that I would be their representative and listen to their concerns and do my best to serve them. I feel that I’m doing that at this time.
Do I want cell towers in residential areas? No. Why? I would hope they could go somewhere else because really, no one WANTS them near where they live. Problem is, with the consuming public demanding better and faster data and more reliable cell service, it’s a necessity. Put it somewhere else we’ve been told. My question would be….where then? There are lots of places now that could be used for these towers and I hope they’ve all been investigated and inquiries made. IF they haven’t, they should.
There are a number of towers in residential areas already. One is by the Foodport…many people didn’t know that it was there despite its height and the two flashing red lights on it. There’s another one by MCRC daycare on Bronte Street and many people didn’t know THAT was there. That’s just to name two. They have been there in some cases since 2005. Have property values decreased? There isn’t any evidence to show that they have and I can only review the numbers as they are now.
When the report is released I will review it in detail as I do with many of the reports that we get before council meetings. I will continue to consult with Ward 6 residents and others on their opinions after it’s released and I welcome a good hearty discussion about this.
Is this a short term issue? Nope. Not a chance. It’s not a short term issue because Milton is a growing, changing community that before it is all said and done will reach a population of close to, if not more than 250,000 people. In that time technology will improve and the need from the consuming public will be for better, faster and more reliable phone and data service and this will come up again.
The rumour right now is another tower at the Rabba Plaza at Derry and Trudeau. From what I’ve heard about that, it’s not going forward. As we develop this town there will be questions asked, where DO we put these towers? The Town of Milton’s policy is to encourage that they don’t go in residential areas, which I agree with that. Health Canada needs to review these studies and do more to find out what the effects of cell towers have on the public. The Region of Halton Medical officer already has stated that he agrees with current Health Canada studies but also says more research is needed.
From a planning aspect we need to have discussions with these telecommunication companies on where these towers can be placed and if at all possible NOT be located in residential areas. It can’t be swept under the rug or attempted in the dark of night while no one’s looking.
Over the next few years Milton will continue its transformation from being a quiet little town of 35,000 people to a major centre in the GMA (The Greater Milton Area as I refer to it as) and we need to have these discussions every step of the way. From what our streets will look like to what services we will have in neighbourhood parks to serve our growing population, to who will be using the Velodrome after the games are over, to working with the province to make sure our hospital is expanded, to what companies we will be trying to get to move their offices here along with much needed jobs to Milton, we need to have these discussions. The unofficial ticker right now is we are close to if not over the 100,000 mark. Are we done? You aint seen nothing yet.
As this continues I hope that everyone is part of the discussion every step of the way. It’s something that I believe in very strongly and I’ve campaigned on it endlessly and putting my money where my mouth is it’s something I’ve done since day one as an elected official. I will always listen to people’s concerns and do my best to make the right decisions around the council table and be a voice for everyone.