Cell Tower In Milton? My Thoughts

Some questions have been raised on our local Hawthorne Villager forums…what does Mike think?  Here it is.

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.

Report on Cell Tower Expected Soon

Looking at the upcoming reports listed on the Town of Milton website recently shows that there is a report on the Bell cell tower proposal at New Life Church is expected to be presented to the members of the Administration & Planning standing committee (of which I am a voting member) on May 14th.

There has been an exhaustive amount of information presented during this process.  If you remember back on March 1st, I was the first to point out this potential development in our area.  From that point on, I have done extensive research in this field and believe me, my eyes are bleary with the sheer number of reports out there, and talked with residents in the immediate and surrounding areas to get their views on the proposal.  You can also contact Halton MP Lisa Raitt’s office by going to http://www.lisaraittmp.com/?page_id=12 and sending in your comments & concerns.

The most vocal have been those who oppose the tower in our area, but I have discussed this with a number of residents who are in support of the tower and allowing the New Life Church to move forward with it.  I will be the first to admit there is a lot of information on both sides of this, and as I mentioned in a Champion article, this debate is very similar to the debate the Region of Halton recently had regarding fluoride in the water.  Emotions have been running high as the process moved forward.

I await the receipt of this report, as many residents in our wards are and as soon as its made available I will have a link to the report here.

So mark your calendars for May 14th at Milton Town Hall.  The meeting starts at 7pm and if you would like to speak on the report, you can register as a delegation for the meeting.  I will have all the information available when the report is ready.

Until then, I’ll see you at the doors.

Cell Tower Information Session

I had the opportunity to attend the public open house held by Altus Group this past Thursday to discuss the proposal for a new cell tower located at the New Life Church at Thompson Road & Clark Blvd.

The room was packed with a number of people overflowing into the hallway and near the entrance of the Milton Leisure Centre.  Many of them were carrying signs of protest and getting signatures on a petition to have it stopped.  Emotions were running high as the residents in the area made their views known to the representatives from Altus Group that they were not happy with the location of the cell tower.

I have made many posts about this on my website and I do thank residents for voiceing their concerns.  From the information I have now, this report will be completed and sent to the Town of Milton for review and their input.  As far as I know, this report will be available to council mid May for information and councillors will be able to comment.  I have mentioned in the past that the Town of Milton does not have a yay or nay say on this tower.  The decision will be made by Industry Canada in the coming weeks.  I do know that Halton MP Lisa Raitt wasnt available to attend the meeting herself, but a representative from her office did make the meeting and spoke at length with concerned residents.

I will keep everyone updated as the process continues.

Here is an article from the Milton Canadian Champion on the meeting Thursday night by Christina Commisso.

Residents express anger at cell tower meeting – Petition circulating to stop 100-foot cross tower in southeast Milton

Lisa-Lynn Vas holds up a sign Thursday evening at the Milton Leisure Centre during an open house hosted by Bell Mobility on the proposed erection of a cell phone tower in the shape of a cross.

Tensions ran high during last night’s meeting on a proposed 100-foot cell phone tower that could grace the landscape outside Milton’s New Life Church.

Residents could be heard chanting “stop the cell tower” and anger was evident in the voices of meeting goers as they spoke to representatives of Bell Mobility, the company behind the tower.

“You can’t stand in there for more than 15 minutes,” said Manny Gulati, referring to the tight space.

Gulati along with a team of residents have been knocking on doors and circulating a petition in hopes of preventing the erection of the tower. They’ve collected more than 500 signatures in two weeks.

Gulati said many of the households he has visited were unaware the cross-shaped tower was being considered on the Thompson Road and Louis St. Laurent-area church property. Once aware of the proposal, Gulati estimated about 80 per cent of individuals are against it. “It’s slowly exposing your body to radiation 24/7. Yes, Health Canada says it’s safe, but their research is still ongoing.”

His feelings were echoed by Ammar Al-Dojaily, who lives down the street from the proposed tower site.

“The problem is no one can say this is safe technology,” he said. “We are not against the technology, we appreciate it, we all use it. But I’m sure there’s an industrial area that could be used, this is not the only location.”

Andrea Anderson has two children who attend the daycare located at New Life. She said if the cell tower moves forward, she will consider pulling her kids out of the program. “If you look at the proximity of the playground, (the tower) is right there. They can probably reach out and touch it or something.”

Area-resident Aaron Sanderson said he wouldn’t think twice about selling his home if the tower is erected.

“Why would I want to expose my children to that,” he said of the radiofrequency (RF) energy given off by the tower. “I have three little kids and there’s some research that shows up to a 43 per cent increase in the chance of cancer. I don’t know if I believe that, but I also don’t know if it’s insignificant and does nothing. So why would I want to take that chance?”

Bell Mobility representatives at the meeting told the Champion they wouldn’t speak on the record with the media.

A Health Canada report distributed by Bell Mobility at the meeting states the International Agency for Research on Cancer said RF energy might be a risk factor for cancer, however more research is needed to clarify the possible link. Health Canada recommends limiting the length of cell phone calls, using hand-free devices and replacing calls with text messages to minimize RF exposure.

The report states, “Precautions to limit exposure to RF energy from cell phone towers are unnecessary because exposure levels are typically well below those specified in health-based exposure standards.”

Residents at the meeting distributed their own material — a study from Brazil that suggests mortality rates from neoplasia (the growth of abnormal cells) increased the closer residents lived to a cell phone base station.

Halton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bob Nosal has disputed the study, stating there’s no convincing evidence weak radiofrequency signals from base stations cause adverse health effects.

Wendy Perkins, who has petitioned against more than one cell tower in Oakville, said smart decisions need to be made when it comes to cell towers.

“The public in Canada is waking up to this issue and saying we can do this smart, we can do this safe and we can do this economically, so why aren’t we? We have never recognized the dangers here.”

Through her experience, Perkins said once in a while with enough public outcry these towers are stopped. “But most of the time after years of protesting and banging your head against the wall, you give up.”

Gulati said he’s confident the tower at New Life can be stopped. “The reaction is here. Everyone is against it and the politicians should take note of that. People around Milton who live far away from the tower are standing against it. They know if we let it happen here, it will happen everywhere.”

A protest against the cell phone tower is planning for this Sunday outside New Life Church.

Cell Tower Open House Coming Up This Thursday

This is just a reminder that the Altus Group will be holding a public information session / open house this Thursday April 12th at 7pm in Milton Leisure Centre.

As viewers of this blog will know, there is a lot of discussion amongst local residents about this ranging from outright opposition to people accepting it as a way of improving mobile services in town.  I urge you to send me your comments as well as the contact at the Altus Group before April 12th to make sure your views are heard.

I have spent a number of days door knocking the area in ward 6 listening to concerns from residents and answering any questions that I can.  There is a lot of data to review and its not an easy issue to deal with.  The best advice I would have is to get as much information as possible during this public process.

Recently CHCH News had a story on some of the local residents commenting on the potential tower installation.

If you remember back at the beginning of March, I posted the information that was sent to councillors in the area to ensure there is a full and open discussion of what is coming down the road with this potential cell phone tower installation. According to the guidelines & regulations, the Town of Milton notifies the residents within the 120 m radius of these types of issues. Im not saying thats wrong, but I am not a fan of that small radius and think that in cases like this, more homes should be notified, hence my original posting. I wanted to ensure as many people as possible are informed of whats happening and provide sources of information so that we are all fully informed and get both sides of the issue. The final decision belongs to Industry Canada and the town provides its comments during this public process.

There are a number of residents circulating a petition against the cell tower and if you would like more information send an email to me and I can forward you their contact information.

No matter what side of the issue you are on, I do urge you to review the available information in my previous posts, comments on the blog as well as what the Altus Group will present at its public information session on the 12th.

I look forward to attending the meeting on the 12th and I hope to see you there.

UPDATE Bell Cell Tower Proposal

Here is some more updated information on the proposed Bell cell tower I posted about recently.

The information letters have been circulated to the residents in the immediate area but I wanted to post it here so that everyone who is interested in this can submit comments/questions and take part in a public meeting.

From the notice sent out:

Proponet Contact Information

Members of the public are invited to provide comments to Bell Mobilty (via Altus Group) about this proposal by mail, email, or fax.  Public have until the end of the day April 12, 2012 to submit their written questions or comments to the address provided below, Altus Group.

Also in an attempt for the applicant to respond to public questions or concerns Altus Group is inviting the public to attend the Open House Information Session that is scheduled on April 12, 2012 at the Milton Leisure Centre, Activity Room from 7-9pm (1100 Main Street East, Milton)

The setting of the meeting is an “Open House Information Session” and there will not be any decisions made on this meeting and all decisions relation to this application will be made by Industry Canada.

Altus Group

33 Yonge Street 5th Floor

Toronto ON M5E 1G4

Attn:  Morteza Alabaf

Email:  comments.agi@altusgroup.com

Fax 416-204-1200

For more information on Industry Canada’s public consultation guidelines including CPC-2-0-03 please visit www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf01702.html or the local Industry Canada office:

Toronto District Office

Room 909, 9th Floor

55 St. Clair Avenue East

Toronto ON M4T 1M2

Phone (416) 973-8215 Fax (416) 954-3553

Email Spectrum Engineering spectrum.toronto@ic.gc.ca

Closing Date for Submission of Written Public Comments

Industry Canada’s rules contain requirement for timely response to your questions, comments or concerns.  We will acknowledge receipt of your communication within 14 days and will provide a formal response to the municipality and those members of the public who communicated to Bell Mobility within 60 days.  The members of the public who communicated with Bell Mobility will then have 21 days to review and reply as the final response.

Keep the date of April 12th in your calendar to attend the open house information session at the Milton Leisure Centre.  And as always if you have any questions, please let me know mike@mikecluett.ca