Residents opposing installation of cellphone antennas on the roof of their apartment building will have to wait awhile to see if Port Coquitlam council will grant their wish.
The residents are upset that Rogers Communications Inc. is putting up several cellphone anntennas for cellphone connectivity, arguing that safety concerns to do with electromagnetic waves have not been fully addressed by the federal government.
They also say they are worried that the antennas put children attending nearby Mary Hill elementary school at risk.
On Tuesday, council decided to defer its decision about whether to require the company putting in the antennas to install shrouds and staff have been asked to provide more information.
“Just because they say it’s safe, doesn’t mean it is,” said Cheryl Sanftleben, a resident of 1955 Western Dr., where the cell antennas are planned. “I don’t think there’s been enough studies. There still is the pros and cons,”
At a meeting at PoCo city hall, Tuesday, council was to consider a proposal by Cypress Land Services Inc. on behalf of Rogers to conceal the cell antennas with three-foot-high fibreglass shrouding material.
The residents don’t want the cell towers hidden, however, because they want the public to be aware that the antennas are on the building’s roof with the hopes of discouraging people from renting suites in the Bonnie Brae apartment, according to Sanftleben.
She said some parents were also upset to learn about the cell antennas being installed on a building so close to their school, and many have signed the petition.
In handouts to parents, the group opposing the antennas said there are health concerns related to electromagnetic radiation from the towers.
But federal government information (https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf11435.html) states that cell towers are safe based on Safety Code 6 limits, which “maintain a general public exposure limit that incorporates a wide safety margin and is therefor far below the threshold for potentially adverse health effects."
The government website notes that Health Canada continues to monitor and analyze scientific research on this issue and should new scientific evidence arise about health risks, appropriate action would be taken to ”safeguard the health of Canadians.”
According to the website, there are 13,000 such antennas across Canada and the number is increasing to meet demand for cellphone connectivity.
Sanftleben acknowledged that PoCo council can’t stop the company from putting antennas on the roof but noted PoCo politicians have in the past refused to put towers on city property, which “shows that there are more that are concerned about this.”
Previously, School District 43 also opposed cell towers close to schools but at a Sept. 10 meeting did not take action on this most recent antenna plan.
Bonnie Brae residents have also taken their case to the federal government. In September, they presented a petition to Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon, asking him to take action. The formal petition was then forwarded to the federal minister for innovation, science and economic development, who is responsible for the Radio Communication Act under Industry Canada.
At the time, McKinnon said he sympathized with the Bonnie Brae residents but said there’s growing pressure in the Lower Mainland for more cellphone connectivity.