We’ve got to fight the towers that be

Public Enemy released “Fight the Power” back in 1989. Regarded as best single of the year by The Village Voice it has also been recognized by the RIAA, the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

It was also included in Time magazine’s 2011 list of all time songs, and the anthem that shaped Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

One has to stop and wonder if Aurora is doing the right thing by contemplating an injunction against a Bell cellular town that isn’t even in its boundaries.

To the over 100 concerned residents that stormed the council chambers for the April 23rd council meeting it appears so. In attendance for another issue I almost thought it was a enactment of Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers where a hoard of Orcs and Uruk-hai lay siege on Helm’s Deep.

Tremendous applause and stomping of feet in unison was met with assurances from councillors Ballard and Abel that immediate action needed to be taken and that “we’re not going to take it”.

So what exactly are “we” supposed to do about it?

Questions surrounding policy seem to have been ratified jointly by The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in February: http://www.itworldcanada.com/news/carriers-agree-to-consult-on-cellphone-towers/146813

Where the breakdown occurred isn’t exactly clear and there is plenty of finger pointing.

Put that aside and if this specific tower in King Township is that Bell has met the Industry Canada requirement what is an injunction going to do?

One thing the very notion of it did do was placate a bunch of angry residents who perceived that by seeking an injunction that council was serving their needs, above and beyond those of the towns. They were more than happy to see councillors ready to go to bat for their NIMBY cause.

It can’t be argued that this is not a NIMBY cause because by its very definition that is exactly what this boils down to, these residents are fine with cell towers, no doubt all own cellphones, they just don’t want one in their backyard.

This isn’t a health issue as there are already over 20 cell towers in Aurora, all of which which can be viewed on this interactive map here:http://www.loxcel.com/celltower and all of which pass Health Canada regulations. If anyone was trying to make this a matter of public health these towers would need to be drawn into the debate, failing to do so only suggests preferential treatment for one section of the town over another.

So what are these residents needs exactly?

To be compensated for depreciation in their home’s value?

To be assisted in changing the landscaping to reduce the “visual pollution” of this tower?

I suppose that the residents directly affected could explore these by approaching Bell, but that they would be far less likely to receive a favourable response in launching a costly legal injunction.

In looking for practical solutions instead of the knee-jerk reactions proposed by Aurora council a quick look to our neighbours shows us what is shaping up around us.

Ironically Thornhill is seeking a tower to improve service: http://www.terracestandard.com/news/196703301.html

Where, like Aurora, in Richmond Hill a fight is on:
http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/2516334-councillors-back-residents-in-cell-tower-fight/

In Oakville much smaller towers became a concern, but attempts to have them relocated were unsuccessful based on the fact that the installation in question there complies with all procedural and technical requirements and Industry Canada is not in a position to order Bell to relocate the facility:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/09/25/cell-towers-homes-industry-oakville.html

A recent battle in St Thomas doesn’t appear to have resulted in netting any major changes:
http://www.stthomastimesjournal.com/2012/11/22/fearing-health-risk-and-loss-of-property-value-central-elgin-neighbourhood-battles-cellphone-tower

And farther out in Edmonton although the tower proceeded what appears to be some reasonable concessions were made:
http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=4df34169-d00d-43f5-8f37-8a9322d0a945

It was ordered the height reduced to 20 metres from 25 metres, and that the tower be concealed in a light standard and that vegetation be planted as a screen.

Camouflaging of towers has been done since the early 1990’s and several poor attempts in warmer climates have been documented in this Wired article:
http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2013/03/dillon-marsh-invasive-species/

The idea of camouflaging towers isn’t a fanciful one, in fact the Toronto Star recently reported on 7 towers in Muskoka Lakes that will disguised as pine trees:
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/03/19/bell_canada_erecting_cellphone_towers_disguised_as_trees_in_cottage_country.html

And guess who the Telco is that is taking this on :why it is Bell.

Aurora’s recently approved Strategic Plan emphasizes innovation and sustainability. Earmarking $150,000 to topple this tower does nothing to adhere to these principals.

Imagine if the same resources were applied to a local economic development project that could build solutions and even jobs for addressing the issues of camouflaging or integrating antennas into existing structures.

If we were smart enough we could probably incorporate some into several of the town’s church steeples, like this:

It could even be a way to see steeples returned to the Aurora United Church.

But that is a little too much to ask for a council who is all to ready to bend over for yet another NIMBY issue, a posture the town has all to well assumed by former one term Mayor Phyllis Morris, through her failed crusade to bury hydro power lines and the noble experiment” of those chicanes.

An injunction against this cell tower is nothing more than another political experiment void of any sense of nobility or responsibility.

A cheap way to get noticed, to get applause, and votes.

Although he may like to think he is, Chris B. is no Chuck D. and before going all gangsta on Industry Canada and the telecommunications companies that provide us the service we demand, perhaps Clr. Ballard should consider heeding the advise imparted in the song :

“What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless”.

 

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