City council rejects cell tower proposal

Council has rejected a proposal for a cell tower on undeveloped land at the south end of the city following pushback from neighbouring residents.

The proposal from Freedom Mobile Inc, which is owned by Shaw Communications, sought to install a 40-metre telecommunications tower and an access road at 2025 8th Ave. South. Freedom pitched leasing the land — zoned as community recreation — for 20 years in five-year terms, paying out an annual $14,000 lease fee.

However, the proposed tower was opposed by neighbouring residents who sent in letters and a petition containing two dozen signatures to city hall.

Most of the opposition focused on potential health concerns due to cell tower emissions, unsightliness, impact to property values and a lack of consultation with nearby residents.

“We have an aunt with an acquired brain injury who is extremely sensitive to high frequency radio waves,” according to a letter signed by David Allen and Rejina Grill. “If this tower is approved, she will be unable to visit us in our home. Not only will this tower affect numerous home owners in our neighbourhood, but also their loved ones.

“If said tower was constructed, our neighbour’s small children will be exposed to dangerous microwaves every time they play in their own backyard. Recent studies have shown that intense radioactivity from mobile towers adversely impacts every biological organism within one square kilometre.”

Another resident was concerned about consultation, circulating a letter and petition among affected residents, noting that not many knew about the cell tower proposal. The letter also added that physical distancing directives due to the COVID-19 pandemic restricted canvassing and that there was more opposition to the proposal than what was recorded on the petition.

Freedom Mobile brought the proposal forward to the city in late 2018 and conducted public consultation with the surrounding community, which included an open house, according to a report from the company that was submitted to the city.

There are five existing Freedom Mobile cell towers in the Cranbrook area, with one more located near the Canadian Rockies International Airport.

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