SaskTel has begun installing cell towers in Warman to help improve service to the community; actually to boost the 4G LTE service. These installations have created a fury of controversy in one of the neighbourhoods where the cell tower is going to be located.
Since these towers fall under Industry Canada guide lines, we as municipal leaders have almost no say in the matter. It has been difficult trying to mitigate the situation with SaskTel because these towers need to go up somewhere in the community or we will have complaints about poor coverage. To every story there are two sides, and here we are stuck between the concerns of our residents and the service that is needed to operate and boost today's technologies.
The problem is, at 14.9 metres, the cell towers fall just short of the 15 meter regulation public consultation guideline. Go to the Industry Canada website http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf01702.html for more information. This has angered the neighbourhood because they had no idea this tower was even coming. Some of the concerns raised are poor consultation, aesthetics of the tower, safety concerns and location. These are all valid complaints.
I will start with consultation. If SaskTel stands behind the need for service and the location chosen to boost this service, why wouldn't they be prepared to inform the community before the installation? It shouldn't be a hard sell (no pun intended) to the neighbourhood if residents have all the factual information.
Under aesthetics - in this day of gadgets, remember the first cell phones? You had to carry them around in a pouch that resembled a small suitcase. Now they fit in your pocket. Surely tower technology could be developed that isn't so invasive. Hopefully that will come sooner rather than later.
Health and safety is a big concern and so much information is out there that leaves you very confused on this point. Is it safe? Some say yes and some say no. Who is right? How long will it take to prove either side of this debate?
Here in Warman we are developing a policy that will include public consultation when installing cell towers. That being said, even with this policy we have NO authority to decide whether we have towers or not.
In the midst of all of this, SaskTel has agreed to come out to Warman for a Public Open House Information Session on Thursday, September 19th from 6:30pm - 8:00pm at the Warman Fire Hall to address any questions our community may have in this matter. So come out and get informed on this issue.
Through all of this we once again are reminded how important good communication is. I do believe this would not have been the fire storm it has become if public communication would have been better. Let’s all strive to improve this area; for all our sakes.
I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn fromeach other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedomsthat they're interested in....
.... Bill Gates