Canadian Township Debates Cell Tower Approval

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chester, nova scotiaThe Chester, Nova Scotia municipality received an 30-meter Eastlink monopole on Central Street near the Chester Volunteer Fire Department July 17, 2015, but residents came to a district council meeting Thursday, May 12, to speak out. Residents, according to the Halifax ChronicleHerald, were irked by protocol the municipality used that allowed the tower to be erected. Many stated at the meeting that they did not know about the tower ahead of time, and that “due process has not been preserved.” One resident said that the village “is permanently scarred.”

A report was released on April 29, after an audit request from the municipality to the Canadian Radiocommunications and Information Notification Service (CRINS). The service’s executive director, Todd White, presented the CRINS’ findings at the council meeting. He said that the service receives more than 170 applications annually to help member municipalities with approvals and process modifications.                                                                        

The ChronicleHerald said Industry Canada must go through a licensing process that includes public consultation “be carried out by the local land-use authority, which is the District of Chester even though the land is leased by the village commission to Eastlink for $2,000 a year. The land is zoned institutional.” Then the views of both the public and the council are sent to the federal department for the licensing approval or disapproval. The department also oversees health and safety compliance and guidelines with Health Canada.

White said that the CRINS report found “deficiencies in how the municipality notified and communicated with residents before it signed off on Eastlink’s application for Industry Canada.” An Eastlink spokesperson, Jill Laing, also was at the meeting, and said that Eastlink “followed all of the regulatory processes for the municipality and Industry Canada, but couldn’t speak to what she called ‘local politics,’ noted the ChronicleHerald. White confirmed that the municipality did send notices to residents in the mail, but there was no proof of service in the mail.

A meeting was held on July 22, once residents saw the tower, and more than 100 people attended. Concerns included harm of the historical quality of the area, which White said was an example of a “clear disconnect between the public’s perception of the designation of the area and the actual zoning.”

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