A proposed cell tower is causing controversy again in Qualicum Beach. Two potential locations are back on the table, five months after the Christian Fellowship Centre (CFC) terminated an agreement to build the tower on its property.
“I’m really disappointed that TELUS has moved forward with this again. I think a few of us feel a little betrayed,” said Michelle Whitney, creator of a petition against the locations.
Both proposed locations for the 45-meter tall monopole tower are located near Eaglecrest Golf Club and the CFC.
“We’re asking [the Town of Qualicum Beach] to draw up some sort of communication guidelines that they can come to TELUS with and say yes, we understand people are wanting better service. These are our community guidelines and these would be appropriate locations to build your tower. As of yet, that has not happened,” she said.
The tower will be an eyesore, as well as a potential safety and environmental risk, according to Whitney, who said she does not believe there is enough data about the effects of 5G towers on people.
Whitney said she and other members of the community are concerned about the proximity of the tower to Arrowview Elementary School and Kwalikum Secondary School, in addition to a daycare located in the CFC.
“There’s a daycare that operates within that church, they were very upset about it as well. And when [the CFC] listened to what the local community was saying, they withdrew their support for that land use,” she said, referring to the church’s decision to terminate the agreement in February.
Any cell tower constructed in Canada must meet the criteria of the federal government’s Safety Code 6, which established safety guidelines for human exposure to radio frequency fields.
“The current Canadian limits already cover the frequency ranges that will be used by 5G devices and antenna installations,” said Riyadh Nazerally, media relations person for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), in a statement.
“These limits are set far below the threshold (at least 50-fold safety margin) for all known established adverse health effects and provide protection for all age groups, including children, on a continuous basis,” he said.
Liz Sauvé, spokesperson for TELUS, said the company has received complaints from residents in the area about a lack of dependable service.
“This investment will ensure we stay ahead of demand so that residents don’t experience dropped calls, dead zones or a slow connection,” said Sauvé.
Whitney said she is aware of complaints about service in the area, but believes the problem is restricted to TELUS customers.
“We spoke to a number of other citizens in Eagle Crest and Chartwell who were with Rogers, Fido and other cell providers — they had no issues getting calls,” she said. “It was merely the people who had TELUS as their cellphone provider that were struggling getting cell phone calls.”
The telecommunications company will be consulting the community to determine which location is preferable, according to Sauvé.
The Christian Fellowship Centre declined Mid Island Independent News’ request for comment on the cell tower’s location.