Sooke, BC accepts Freedom cell tower despite health and aesthetic objections

Two months after rejecting a Freedom Mobile cell tower, Sooke, British Columbia, has approved another in a different part of the district.

The proposed 50-metre tower is set to go up in a 2,600 block of Otter Point Road, providing an option for stronger service to the approximately 13,000-person Vancouver Island community. It’s one tower among many for Freedom Mobile, which is currently working to expand the footprint of its nearly one-year-old LTE network.

Sooke mayor Maja Tait broke a tie in the town council to approve the tower. According to the Victoria News, she stated: “It’s challenging because I know some of our residents don’t want to host this, but I also know a lot depend on the service.”

Residents came out against the Otter Point Road tower — and the initial tower planned for Sooke Road — due to concerns regarding health, aesthetics and property values. Some groups even went so far as to present petitions.

“None of this is within our statutory authority.”

Freedom Mobile came prepared, however, filing a report with the council that stated that the Otter Point tower is 1,000 percent lower than the prescribed exposure limits set by Health Canada, while further arguing that the tower’s sight lines “significantly minimized” by tree cover.

Councillor Rick Kasper also pointed out that the decision is ultimately not in Sooke’s hands.

“None of this is within our statutory authority,” said Kasper. “It’s not like we adopted a bylaw or a policy that’s going to affect somebody. It’s just going through an input process. The decision-making authority is beyond us.”

Freedom Mobile 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.

Of course, it’s better if the tower is built in a community that welcomes its services, which is no doubt why Freedom decided to go the extra mile in accommodating Sooke’s desires.

Image credit: Herb Neufeld via Flickr

Source: Victoria News