Are Communication Towers Good Neighbours?

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It’s an issue that Industry Canada has jurisdiction over, but one that municipal politicians all over the province are increasingly hearing about.

More users (19.3 million Canadian subscribers as of September) and the need for greater bandwidth (video and music downloads) is driving a growing demand for better wireless infrastructure that solves poor reception. But as service providers react to that demand by putting cellphone towers in residential neighbourhoods, some community groups are voicing fears that the towers’ radio frequency emissions may pose health risks. And some residents, primarily concerned with visual blight, are demanding that towers be disguised (trees, church steeples, building facades, flag poles, public art water tanks, light poles, chimneys, windmills, etc; check out some of the photos HERE).

Residents in Montgomery County, Washington learned the hard way that cash-strapped school boards cannot be trusted to put the protection of children’s health ahead of economic incentives. When a bill came before the Maryland Legislature which proposed that leasing space for any new cell phone towers on elementary and middle school property be prohibited, the Montgomery County School Board voiced it’s unanimous opposition (‘School board stops bill banning new cell towers‘; Examiner; 2007/12/12).

Some countries in the European Union have adopted tough standards. In Salzburg, Austria, emissions can’t exceed 0.1 microwatts per square centimetre. But here, Health Canada currently permits 1,000 microwatts per square centimetre.

Should London residents be concerned?

Links:
Stop Cell Towers!
2004/05/19 – SignOnSanDiego: Parents protest cell towers on school grounds
2007/09/27 – Las Vegas Sun: Cell towers can’t hide from their opponents
2007/11/14 – Rense: Taiwan Removes All Cell Towers Near Children
2007/12/29 – Toronto Star: Cell tower plans jammed
2007/12/29 – Toronto Star: Telcos get mixed signals about better reception
2008/01/04 – Toronto Star: City report recommends limiting new cell towers

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