Council and Citizens and Cell Towers, oh my …

Pat Trudeau believes Industry Canada steamrolled citizens and city council by approving a new cell tower at Calvary Church

Industry Canada has approved the location of a new cell tower beside the Calvary Church flagpole (photo by Pat Trudeau)
Industry Canada has approved the location of a new cell tower beside the Calvary Church flagpole (photo by Pat Trudeau)

You know, I’ve written in the past about politicians and governments operating in non-democratic ways, but this week a division of our federal government took things a step further.

Even though 323 people signed a petition against it and city council voted against it, Industry Canada approved building a new cell tower at the Calvary Church located on Lansdowne Street, near Clonsilla Avenue. In a letter forwarded to the residents of the neighbouring Westview Village, Industry Canada advised that they had decided to go ahead with the construction of the planned tower, ultimately going against the best wishes of the concerned citizens and city council.

From the start, people were concerned with the proximity that the proposed tower location had to residential areas and fought the good fight to protect their interests. It seemed as though their interests had been upheld, until the news arrived this week.

The Westview Village Cell Tower Committee met with MP Dean Del Mastro and, although he had promised action on their interests, there’s no concrete evidence that he ever did anything. It may also be worth noting that Del Mastro is a member of the congregation at the Calvary Church, which will receive monthly compensation for the tower being on their premises.

Residents of nearby Westview Village opposed the proposed location of the cell tower at Calvary Church (photo by Pat Trudeau)
Residents of nearby Westview Village opposed the proposed location of the cell tower at Calvary Church (photo by Pat Trudeau)
It doesn’t take a genius to know that everyone and their brother have cell phones these days and when you have so many people using wireless networks, the networks need to be bolstered to support the increased traffic. With the advent of smartphones and data-hungry users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (basically, me in a nutshell), that need to increase the strength of wireless networks expands ten fold.

This cell tower’s main purpose was to support a new wireless carrier (WIND Mobile) and allow them to service users in the Peterborough area. Their argument for the tower was that it would reduce people’s wireless bill — which happens to be a bold statement seeing as they have less than 4% market share in Canada. So with the backing of deep pockets, Wind pushed hard for this strategically placed tower and, by the sounds of things, their push was really no more than a nudge.

The placement of this cell tower was open for discussion. Different locations had been tabled but Industry Canada didn’t appear to care. When deciding on this case, it’s rumoured that they didn’t visit the location or review the suggestions of the Westview Village Cell Tower Committee. It’s believed that, essentially, the decision was made after reviewing the documents filed by the proponent — in this case, Wind Mobile.

Since it was created in 1993, Industry Canada’s job has been to promote economic development, investment and innovation in Canada. Essentially think of them as the GPAEDC of Canada. This is a good thing. Their job is to make sure we’re striving forward as a country instead of falling behind. However, their actions on this matter could be likened to the GPAEDC proposing a new business coming to Peterborough, city council denying that proposal, and the GPAEDC allowing that business to come to town regardless of the city’s decision.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advancement of our wired and wireless infrastructures. I think there’s still a large percentage of the population that don’t have broadband for example, because of where they live or the pricing being too high. Perfect reason for us to consider these sorts of infrastructure improvements. The thing is, with us living in a democracy, things should be a two-way street and we have to consider alternative views, no matter how different they may be from our own.

Now, I’m no politician or lawyer, but it doesn’t appear as though Industry Canada executed their due diligence. I’ve been in management and sales for a number of years and if I made decisions based solely on one side of a two-sided argument, I wouldn’t be very successful.

That’s the hitching point to this whole story. It doesn’t matter what your profession, belief system, culture or affluence is, nothing good comes from biased decisions. Hatred and war over politics, race and religion all over the world, happen because of uneducated decisions and from listening to only one side of a two-sided argument.

In recent years our governments have shown repeatedly that they are incredibly efficient at making decisions without voter input. While I’ll be the first to admit that efficiency is a great thing for any organization, due process shouldn’t be sacrificed in its name.