Industry Minister Releases Third Party Review of Triangle Mountain Antenna Towers Siting Process
OTTAWA, February 6, 2003— Industry Minister Allan Rock today released a report by Professor Rodney Dobell, who was commissioned to review the process of authorization of broadcast towers on Triangle Mountain near Colwood, British Columbia.
Undertaken in response to concerns raised by the City of Colwood, the review's mandate was to: a) determine whether the authorizations for the towers on Triangle Mountain were made in accordance with established Industry Canada regulations and procedures; and b) suggest recommendations for changes to the established procedures related to the siting of antenna towers.
The review found that Industry Canada did not depart in any material way from its established antenna siting procedures. The review also identified areas for improvement, which will be examined in the National Antenna Tower Policy Review to commence later this year. A key theme of the suggestions is to improve the way in which Industry Canada works with citizens, communities and companies to better balance local residents' concerns and the increasing demand for radiocommunication services.
In releasing Professor Dobell's review, Minister Rock acknowledged the Mayor, City Council and citizens of Colwood as having helped inspire the National Antenna Consultation, announced in October 2002. The National Antenna Tower Policy Review will give all Canadians the opportunity to shape the Department's tower siting procedures to ensure they keep pace with an evolving technological and consumer environment to best meet citizens' concerns.
Triangle Mountain Antenna Towers Review: Backgrounder
In his Triangle Mountain Antenna Towers Review, Professor Rodney Dobell concluded that in issuing authorizations for towers on Triangle Mountain in Colwood, British Columbia, Industry Canada did in fact follow established processes. In carrying out the review, Professor Dobell also identified areas for improvement, which will be considered during the upcoming National Antenna Tower Policy Review.
Professor Dobell addressed six specific concerns raised by the City of Colwood Triangle Mountain Transmission Towers Citizens Committee:
1. Health concerns and Safety Code 6: The author finds that Industry Canada rules and procedures were followed fully in respect of expressions of health concerns by residents. Compliance with Health Canada's Safety Code 6 standard was confirmed.
2. Structural integrity of towers and installed equipment: Professor Dobell concludes that by replacing the old, original tower on Triangle Mountain with one designed and installed to meet current standards, the result has been a safer tower with greater structural integrity.
3. Installation by Rogers AT&T Wireless of cellular telephone antennas in advance of securing a license(s): Professor Dobell concluded that, "In the present case, since the company followed customary practice and installed equipment during final construction of a fully authorized structure, with no requirement either for zoning variance or building permits, I see no failure in Industry Canada's processes here. But one can see a need for greater clarity in the regulatory authority in this respect, and perhaps a need for greater notice and scrutiny in advance of any authority being granted for such installations."
4. Complaints of electronic interference in nearby residences: Professor Dobell noted that a small number of outstanding cases of radiowave interference still exist in the Colwood area. He also found that, "The Citizens Committee seems to misinterpret the extent of the Minister's obligation — as distinct from discretion — to take action in the present case, and Industry Canada seems warranted in its position that any formal determination of harmful interference would be premature at this time." Finally, Professor Dobell noted that broadcasters stand ready to address and correct problems brought to their attention.
The Minister has directed Industry Canada officials to help local residents to resolve outstanding cases of radiowave interference.
5. Alternatives analysis in the Industry Canada approvals process: Professor Dobell identifies this element of the Citizens Committee's concerns that has the most weight and one area that Industry Canada could have done a better job. The author, however, noted that despite the opportunities, no objections to the proposed siting and construction were registered by either local authorities or residents. Minister Rock has indicated the City of Colwood may suggest alternative sites for relocation, and that officials are prepared to facilitate discussion with the broadcasters; however, the final decision rests with the broadcasters.
6. Notification and consultation of local authorities: Professor Dobell links this concern to the issue of alternatives analysis. Likewise, he notes concerns about the nature of the consultation process, but concludes that the concerns are technical rather than material. The report concluded that the City of Colwood was notified regarding the broadcast installations, but did not respond to multiple opportunities for comment or other consultation. Professor Dobell noted that all parties — Industry Canada, the City of Colwood and the broadcast companies — could have done a better job in this regard. He indicates this as an ongoing issue for consideration in the National Antenna Tower Policy Review.