Resident objects to cellphone towers in West End

A West End tenant has written to Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan to object to the installation of seven cellphone-transmission antennas on the roof of her building. In her April 24 letter to Sullivan, Tina Zanetti stated that she discovered that two separate permits had been issued to Mott Electric earlier this year without any notification to area residents about the “health hazards associated with electromagnetic radiation”.

Zanetti, a resident of 1395 Beach Avenue, noted in her letter that cellphone towers are regulated by the federal government. She accused the city of being “completely reckless” in its handling of this issue. Zanetti demanded that the mayor impose a stop-work order and immediately notify West End residents of this in writing. She also wants a notice published in a newspaper for the purpose of holding a public forum on the issue.

Sullivan aide Dana Bertrand wrote to Zanetti on April 25 to say that these permits are granted “on a regular basis (almost daily) and notice to surrounding buildings is not required”. Bertrand added that health standards are being met.

Sullivan was a member of Vancouver city council in July 1997, when the city’s board of variance revoked building and development permits for a Microcell wireless transmission tower and antenna. The board, which hears appeals of planning decisions, ruled in favour of parents who objected to the facility being installed next door to a school, in a cross at Fraserview Assembly Church, now known as Harvest City Church. Microcell voluntarily turned off the antenna several months later.

Martin Weatherall, a resident of Bright, Ontario, filed a petition last year to the federal auditor general concerning the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation from cellphone towers. Health Canada’s radiation-protection bureau limits maximum exposure to a “Safety Code 6” guideline, which is 50 times less than the level defined as the lowest that could produce harmful effects.

Health Minister Tony Clement wrote a reply to the auditor general stating that there is no “scientifically justifiable” reason to issue health warnings.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human exposure to RF fields below the limits outlined in Safety Code 6 produce any adverse human health effects,” Clement wrote.

In his reply to the auditor general, Environment Minister John Baird wrote: “At the present time, Environment Canada has no regulations in place to protect the environment from the effects of electro magnetic radiation.”