Local protocol guidelines allow the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to express location and design preferences to wireless companies in a Whistler-specific context, while working within the constraints of Industry Canada's regulatory framework.
On December 17, 2013, Council adopted the Antenna System Siting Protocol – Council Policy G-25, which establishes procedures and guidelines for the placement and design of antenna systems, such as new freestanding antenna systems and building/structure-mounted antenna systems.
Industry Canada regulates the location and installation of antenna systems and makes the final decision to approve and license the location of antenna systems.
Proponents are required to establish a public consultation process, which includes:
- Sending out a public notification package to businesses and residences within 400 metres of a proposed cell tower installation;
- Notifying the community with signs and ads; and
- Hosting a public information session in cases where there is significant public interest.
Following the consultation period, the proponent will provide the RMOW with a package summarizing the results of the public information session. This package will contain at a minimum:
- The list of attendees, including names, addresses and phone numbers (where provided voluntarily);
- Copies of all letters and other written communications received; and
- A letter of response from the proponent outlining how all the concerns and issues raised by the public were addressed.
The proponent is required to respond to all questions, comments and concerns in a timely manner (no more than 60 days from the date of receipt).
Public comments and concerns
Examples of concerns that proponents are to address as part of the Industry Canada mandate may include:
- Why is the use of an existing antenna system or structure not possible?
- Why is an alternate site not possible?
- What is the proponent doing to ensure that the antenna system is not accessible to the general public?
- How is the proponent trying to integrate the antenna into the local surroundings?
- What options are available to satisfy aeronautical obstruction marking requirements at this site?
- What are the steps the proponent took to ensure compliance with the general requirements of CPC-2-0-03: Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Safety Code 6, etc.?
Concerns not relevant as part of the Industry Canada mandate include:
- Disputes with members of the public relating to the proponent's service, but unrelated to antenna installations;
- Potential effects that a proposed antenna system will have on property values or municipal taxes; and
- Questions whether the Radiocommunication Act, CPC-2-0-03: Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, Safety Code 6, locally established bylaws, other legislation, procedures or processes are valid or should be reformed in some manner.
The RMOW's role is to issue a statement of concurrence (including conditions, if required) or non-concurrence to the proponent and to Industry Canada considering:
- Land use compatibility of the antenna system;
- The responses of the affected residents; and
- The proponent’s adherence to the Antenna System Siting Protocol – Council Policy G-25.
Health Canada has safety guidelines for exposure to radiofrequency fields in its Safety Code 6 publication titled Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz.
While the responsibility for developing Safety Code 6 rests with Health Canada, Industry Canada has adopted this guideline to protect the general public.
Industry Canada requires all radiocommunication and broadcasting operators to comply with Safety Code 6 at all times, including the consideration of combined effects of nearby installations within the local radio environment. Further, operators must respect updates made to Safety Code 6.
- Industry Canada Client Procedures Circular – CPC-2-0-03: Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems
- Industry Canada – Safety Code 6 (SC6) Radio Frequency Exposure Compliance Evaluation Template (Uncontrolled Environment Exposure Limits)
- Vancouver Coastal Health Authority – Health Concerns about Cellular Phone Transmission Antennae and Base Stations
- B.C. Ministry of Health – Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?