At yesterday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Sooke Council elected to issue a letter of concurrence to the federal regulating body (Innovation, Science and Economic Development—or ISED—Canada), indicating their approval of a Freedom (Shaw) tower at 5154 Sooke Rd.
The vote came after over an hour of input from representatives from Freedom (Shaw) and five neighbouring residents. The neighbours passionately opposed the cell tower. One neighbour noted that they had put their property on the market last year and that, while it had received an offer to purchase, that offer fell through. The reason given was the possible proximity to the cell tower. Representatives from Freedom noted that with fewer cell towers, handheld cell phones emit more radiation when they seek cell towers that are further away. They did explore other placement areas, each met with limitations that eliminated the location from further consideration.
Councillors Bateman and Beddows were opposed.
Councillor Bateman said he was largely influenced by the loss-of-property-value argument. Councillor Beddows fought in the interest of one property of the affected residents, noting that he himself would not buy the property in question.
Supporting the motion were Mayor Tait and Councillors LaJeunesse, McMath and St-Pierre.
Councillor St-Pierre stated that as elected officials they were not tasked with protecting individual’s property valued but looking after the community as a whole. Mayor Tait added that the property-value argument could go both ways. Councillor McMath spoke of the thousands who were not represented at the meeting and would be in support of a tower that introduced competition and killed the dead-zone. And Councillor Lajeunesse felt that this was in the interest of economic development.
Councillor Logins was not at the meeting.
The motion to issue a letter of concurrence was forwarded to the regular meeting that followed and passed with the same degree of support, four in favour with two opposed. Councillor Beddows expressed feelings of disgust at Council’s final decision.
It was noted that Health Canada is the regulating body for monitoring the safety of cell towers. It was also noted that the district’s influence was limited to a letter of either concurrence or non-concurrence and that ultimately it would be decided at the federal level.
The tower that is planned will be disguised to mimic the look of a tree.
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Image credit: By An Errant Knight – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped