Calling All Communities – From FCM Conference Saskatoon 2012

As per my video newsletter, I promised a link to the presentation and workshop put on by the FCM Conference in Saskatoon this past weekend. It provides some more information regarding cell towers and the need for more involvement with local municipalities and the telecommunication companies as we move forward. There will always be a need for cell towers with society’s ever increasing demand for data and cell services and we all need to be proactive, instead of reacting to individual applications to maintain transparency.

Its over an hour, which includes the question and answer session and provides more information and a good debate. Enjoy.

Watch live streaming video from bambooshootslive at livestream.com

Another Source Of Cell Tower Information

Last night the Administration & Planning Standing Committee endorsed staff recommendation PD 026-12.  This was to modify the Town of Milton’s Telecommunication policy, while strongly urging telecommunication companies and Industry Canada to come to the table during discussions like the one we’ve had for the last 2 months and also to state opposition or what is called “non-concurrence” to the application from New Life Church & Altus Group (Bell Canada)

There was definitely an interest from the residents in the area surrounding the proposed tower and from all over Milton in attendance in what was a jam packed council chamber.  There were over 10 delegations listed and throughout the night, each one took ten minutes to explain their reasons for either supporting or not supporting the cell tower application. 

Of those delegates, many applauded town staffs report in its detail and thoroughness.  Some explained of their worries on the potential hazzards of living near a cell tower while others described the impact on the quality of life of business owners & those who no longer have landlines and soley use this technology as their only phone.  What was clear from everyone was this.  There was a call for better communication between the municipalities and the proponents is needed, especially as out town grows.

During my comments, I had mentioned that this isnt a short term issue.  As the Town of Milton grows from what was 35,000 to being approximately 100,000 now to its eventual size of nearly 250,000 people, THIS will happen again and again and again unless something is done about it.  The more people move to Milton, the more demand for better and faster data and phone services will increase.

So now that the Town (assuming the decision is ratified by full council on May 28th) has said no to this particular application, where do we go from here?  Good question.  Once this report is ratified, it will be sent back to the individual parties to see if some kind of resolution can be made on a possible compromise or new location entirely.  Thats a tough call. 

Outlined in the report was Altus Group’s attempt at other locations in the prime area with no success.  These towers cant be just arbitrarily placed whever needed.  There has to be a willing host for the tower and Altus Group found that willing party in New Life Church.

Not to burst any bubbles, but the deal isnt dead.  Maybe the two parties can come to an agreement or Altus Group can find another willing host for a tower.  If they cant come to that agreement on consensus, the eventual decision will be made by Industry Canada.  In some cases, municipalities that have opposed towers and Industry Canada has agreed with them, but thats not always the case.

There have been towns and cities who have opposed cell towers, only to have Industry Canada approve them anyway.  We will have to see how this develops over time.  But there is one thing that is quite clear that needs to happen.

Everyone’s got to come to the table from the beginning.  The Boyne Survey is the next “chunk” of residential development that will start soon and will bring what is estimated to be 70,000 more people to the greatest town in the world.  Imagine that.  70,000 MORE Miltonians.  With those people moving to Milton, it will bring more phones, Black Berry’s, iPhones and push the limits of what we currently have in place.

The reality is NO ONE wants towers in their backyard and in residential areas.  It’s been a clear message I and other councillors have heard over the last 2 months.  If not there….then where?  This is why the TC’s (telecommunication companies) need to come to the table with our planning department so as we plan the Boyne Survey and other developments, we can get an idea of where these need to be placed.  Then we can discuss these locations with current landowners and come to some form of an agreement with them so we can plan around the towers in residential areas and avoid any further issues.

I have read roughly 200 different reports, studies and brochures on this technology.  The good and the bad.  Some were quite clear in their conclusions while some left details and arguments to be desired.  During the two months I have spoken with, and will continue to follow up with a number of real estate agents both inside and outside of Milton to gauge what might happen to property values when cell towers are erected. 

One presenter last night, who admittedly isnt an expert in real estate, but in economics, stated over and over that property values would plummet in areas where cell towers are put in place.  To be honest, the real estate agents I spoke with in detail showed me proof that despite the claims of the presenter last night, property values do not decrease.  There has been no evidence in Milton to prove that property values go down in areas surrounding cell towers.  In particular Duncan Lane, which at some points directly fronts a cell tower located on Bronte Street (near a child care institution) there have been homes sold OVER asking price.

I’m sure that debate will continue as these towers continue to be installed to improve the quality of communication, data transfer and fill in the empty areas to ensure no dropped calls by providers.

During this process I have also had the opportunity to speak with many people both in my ward and all throughout the Town of Milton and have learned a lot from them.  As I continually updated my website, many from outside Milton took the time to read my posts and even offer links to studies and other sources of information.

This past Thursday I received an email from Todd White of Canadian Radiocommunications Information & Notification Service (CRINS) who provided me with a link to their organizations website which I thought was valuable.  With his permission, here is his email:

Dear Mike,

First I would like to congratulate you on a job well done – of all the municipal politicians which we have observed in dealing with antenna system issues, your efforts on the part of your constituents to address their concerns are top-of-the-class. Our staff has been watching your website regularly to keep up-to-date on the New Life Church  application, and have reported back that you seem to have done a great job and hopefully your constituents are appreciative of your efforts.

I wanted to offer you an opportunity to maybe off-load some of your educational duties with respect to the public and antenna systems. As you may be aware, CRINS-SINRC is a shared service consisting of participating municipalities who are dealing with the same challenges in antenna siting as the Town of Milton. We’ve spoken to Angela Janzen, and her colleagues about our activities and we are available to them at any time.

However, I wanted to suggest that you  should feel free to send members of the public to our website – http://www.crins-sinrc.ca/  – specifically to the “I Have A Question…” section which lays out quite clearly the jurisdictional and process issues surrounding antenna siting.  This may reduce the amount of time you spend explaining to the public how the process works, and it will hopefully give you some of your day back.

We try to keep our resources up-to-date and communicate any interesting changes to our members and the public – so do avail yourself of those resources if they can help.

I wish you well and once again good job in working for your constituents.

Regards,

Todd

Todd White
Executive Director  CRINS

Please take a few moments to read through his website as it provides a good source of information and clearly answers a number of questions that people might have.

I wanted to end with a thank you to all the people I have spoken with recently.  I have learned a lot about this technology and its potential affects on the public and more importantly, the process that needs to be followed in case….nope, WHEN it happens again.  I hope that when it does come up again, we have everyone to the table beforehand in an open and frank discussion so that people are not surprised when another application is made.

I’ll see you at the doors.

Staff Recommendation On Cell Tower? NO!

This post will be an evolving one through the day as I get more information.  The report on staffs recommendation to the Administration & Planning Standing Committee for May 14th, and in turn for Town Council’s review and vote has been released.  You can find the link here.

http://www.milton.ca/MeetingDocuments/Council/agendas2012/rpts2012/PD-026-12%20AJ%20Telecom%20Towers.pdf

Large File Warning!  Its 43 pages and probably a few MB’s so be prepared 🙂

Essentially the recommendation reads like this:

RECOMMENDATION:
THAT Report PD-026-12 be received for information;

THAT Council adopt the newly revised Telecommunications Facility Policy (“Protocol”) attached as Appendix “A” to Report PD-026-12 as policy, instructing staff to review all specified Telecommunication Facility locations in light of the new criteria;

THAT the Town Clerk be instructed to circulate the newly revised “Protocol” to the Region of Halton, Halton MPP’s, Halton MP’s and to all telecommunication providers, indicating the Town of Milton’s position is that Industry Canada’s protocol needs to be revised to require a formal mandated approval by the local municipality and that Industry Canada should participate more actively in the public consultation process;

AND THAT staff be directed to continue to work with all local telecommunications providers in developing acceptable design alternatives for the general community;

AND FURTHER THAT, with respect to the specific “New Life Church Tower” proposal located at 824 Thompson Road, Milton Council adopt the position of non-concurrence as discussed by staff and outlined in a draft Letter of Non-Concurrence found in Appendix “C” to Report PD-026-12.

More to come as I read through the report today to get the details, but as this report states regarding the Bell Cell tower proposal for New Life Chruch, staff recommends that it not be approved.

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.