[WEST BROOKLYN, NS] — The community of West Brooklyn is trying to convince Eastlink to consider an alternative location for a proposed telecommunications tower.
Eastlink is proposing a 76-metre tower off the West Brooklyn Road, about 194 metres from the closest home and not far from a Ducks Unlimited wetland habitat.
“We do support Eastlink, we just don’t support this location,” said resident Kate Legge, who lives near the proposed site.
Legge, who grew up in the community, has a one-year-old daughter and recently decided to move home to live in a rural setting after attending school in Ontario. Now, two months later, she has learned plans for the tower. With eleven homes and active farming within a kilometre of the site, she said the tower would be too close for comfort.
Legge said residents don’t know the extent of potential health ramifications from radio frequency radiation. She is concerned for the wellbeing of nearby children and wildlife.
Legge is worried the tower would mean lights shining and blinking in their windows during the night.
“It will change everything about rural life here on the mountain,” she said.
Ideally, Legge said, residents would like to see Eastlink locate the equipment on an existing tower or choose a secluded location that is accessible off logging roads. Legge said Eastlink is known for supporting the community so residents expect the service provider to listen to their concerns.
A petition is circulating in the community against the proposed tower location.
Resident Stan Moeller said he also has concerns over negative impacts on property values. The municipality’s tax base would take a hit if people stop building homes on the mountain because of the tower.
“There is a huge determination up here to get the tower moved to a different site,” Moeller said, pointing out he has not witnessed an issue that has galvanized the community like this before.
Moeller doesn’t believe this country’s governing body for telecommunications structures, Industry Canada, is applying the precautionary principle as strongly as other nations. It has identified certain areas of concern to take into account but won’t consider others, including health.
One area of concern Industry Canada does consider is interference with migratory or endangered species. Moeller said studies have shown guy-wires on towers kill migratory birds and the proposed site is located near wetlands and ponds and in flight paths.
He said residents also have concerns about the process. They were given only three weeks notice of the County of Kings public consultation meeting Sept. 26 although the municipality has been aware of the Eastlink proposal for months.
A community meeting was held Sept. 19, featuring guest Speaker Jill Hiscock, whose Wolfville Ridge committee successfully thwarted attempts by a competing service provider to erect a tower in their community.
Kings County planner Leanne Jennings said Industry Canada would make the final decision on the proposed tower.
“They ask an applicant or proponent to consult the land-use authority,” she explained.
Some municipalities don’t have a policy for public consultation but the County of Kings does. One goal of the consultation is to “obtain land-use authority concurrence.” At the end of the consultation process, county council could give a positive recommendation to the proposed site or “make a motion of non-support.”
The process involves…
• Public consultation meeting that was held Sept. 26;
• Proponent (Eastlink) provides written response to what Industry Canada considers relevant concerns;
• Municipal planning staff integrate this response into a staff report for the county’s planning advisory committee;
• The committee gives makes a recommendation to county council;
• Council gives consideration and makes a recommendation to Industry Canada;
• Industry Canada either approves or denies the Eastlink application.