Sooke, British Columbia, has rejected a plan by Freedom Mobile to erect a 50-metre cellphone tower in the municipality even as cellphone reliability remains a problem, reports the Sooke News Mirror.
Mayor Maja Tait, who voted against the tower, stated: “I do appreciate what Freedom is trying to do in terms of service. The challenge is the impact it has on the neighbourhood.”
The application by Freedom, which is currently expanding the footprint of its new 4G LTE network, would allow for coverage to customers along Sooke Road from the town centre eastward toward Victoria.
It was opposed by nearby residents who cited issues of health, aesthetics, and property value. Those residents also presented a 20-name petition against the tower’s construction to council.
Mayor Tait noted, however, that the tower could be built without Sooke’s approval — though it wouldn’t be ideal.
Freedom is required by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to consult with land use authorities, but the ultimate decision rests in the governmental department’s hands.
Councillor Kerrie Reay was the only of the group to support Freedom Mobile’s application, stating that websites from the Canadian Cancer Society to the World Health Organization suggest health risks are minimal and noting that there are already has 49 telecommunication towers in the district.
“I think dependency on cellphones has become critical in today’s society, and for many people in Sooke and across the nation, people no longer need land lines,” said Reay.
The community of approximately 13,000 is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and is a popular scenic tourist destination well-known for its annual fine arts show.