Telus wants to improve cellphone service around Willow Point but one councillor is concerned the equipment needed could pose a cancer risk to the community.
Telus made a presentation to city council Tuesday night, proposing to put up a cell phone tower in Willow Point Park, near the baseball field off of Parkway Road.
“Telus is proposing to build a 30-metre mono pole at Willow Point park adjacent to the Sportsplex, in an area where the current cellular coverage is very poor – we get a lot of complaints,” said Brent Shannon, of Medallion Land Services on behalf of Telus. “The feedback is that it will be an improvement to the area.”
City staff, working with Telus, recommended the phone company install its free-standing tower off the side of the baseball diamond and the all-weather field, adjacent to the treed area near the back nine of the disc golf course.
That set off alarm bells for Coun. Larry Samson.
“I think this is the wrong site,” Samson said. “The last thing I think we want to do, with the uncertainty around radiation levels, is put a tower site in our parks so the city can collect a certain amount of revenue. I think we have to be very careful. There’s been studies done for the last decade and longer on the harmful effects of radiation that have been affiliated with or linked to these cell towers. To put it in our parks is just wrong.”
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the World Health Organization organized a workshop in 2005 on cell phone towers and wireless networks to review health risks associated with radiofrequency energy. According to the Cancer Society’s website, it determined “that current evidence doesn’t show any short-term or long-term health effects from the signals produced by cell phone towers. However, ongoing research is still looking at the relationship between cancer and radiofrequency exposure from all sources.”
Coun. Mary Storry was also concerned about the location, and wondered if the tower would take away from the park.
“The tower itself is quite small and innocuous but the 10 meter x 10 metre fence (that would surround the tower) and the access road or pathway, I’m just wondering if we’re going to lose too much of our park space,” she said. “I’d really like to walk out there in the park and just pace it out. I’d just like to go out and have a look at it. I’m not opposed to putting up the tower, I just need to go out and have a peek.”
Shannon said Telus is not set on the location that went before council, but that it was a spot recommended by city staff.
“This wasn’t even Telus’ preferred location the reality is we’re pretty open to this location,” he said. “It will provide coverage for the people who are currently screaming for it. It’s one option, it doesn’t have to be there.” The spot Telus liked “was right in the same approximate area but this one is more tucked away into the trees,” Shannon said. “These types of towers are in parks all across Canada but that doesn’t mean it has to be in a park in Campbell River.
“We were working with city staff (in the hopes) it would be a positive installation that would benefit the community.”
Coun. Andy Adams said in consideration of Samson’s concerns about the tower location and Storry’s comments, he would like to refer the issue back to city staff for a report on possible locations and impacts.
Storry made the motion to put off any decision on the cell tower pending the staff report, which was passed by council.