Cara de St. Remy was one of several people who spoke against a proposed cellphone tower near a Walnut Grove school at a Township of Langley hearing last month.

Cara de St. Remy was one of several people who spoke against a proposed cellphone tower near a Walnut Grove school at a Township of Langley hearing last month.

No to cell tower near school

Residents convince Langley Township council to oppose proposed tower

A new cellphone service provider could not convince Langley Township council to support a third tower near a local school.

But Wind Mobile was able to get support for another tower in a commercial district.

The company, which started in Toronto and Calgary in 2009, has grown to become Canada’s fourth largest cellphone service provider.

Wind wants to build two towers in the Township.

One, 50 metres high, would go up at 21765 Telegraph Trail beside two other cell phone towers owned by Telus and Rogers on agricultural land about 300 metres from the École des Voyageurs school in Walnut Grove.

The other 40-metre tall tower would go up in a mostly commercial neighbourhood zoned for light industrial purposes at 9497 201 Street.

The Oct. 21 public hearing on the proposed towers was dominated by opponents of the Telegraph Trail tower, many of them parents of children who attend École des Voyageurs who worry about the possible health impact of a third tower.

One of the parents, Cara de St. Remy said there were troubling signs suggesting the impact of the two towers already installed near the school.

“The treetops are dying,” St. Remy said.

“I’m not sure if I want my son continuing in a school with two towers.”

There were six speakers, all against.

Wind spokesman Robert Thompson then told the hearing the company tried to get space for its antenna on the existing Rogers and Telus towers near the school, but the rival firms wouldn’t let them locate high enough on the towers.

It also tried to get space on an existing Telus tower in the light industrial neighbourhood and got the same refusal to let them co-locate high enough.

Thompson said tests show the impact of radio waves from the cell towers will be minimal.

“These are very small wattage,” Thompson said.

“You’re probably getting stronger voltage from [the broadcast antenna on] your phone, putting it to your ear.”

It was not enough to convince most councillors.

Kim Richter said the concerns about the Telegraph Trail cell tower raised by residents were valid “given the fact there [would be] three of them, they’re very close together and they’re too close to the school.”

Councillor Bob Long agreed, saying “we’ve already got two towers there. A third one is just ludicrous.”

Mayor Jack Froese said the towers were needed to meet growing demand for cell service in Langley.

“We need to be able to use this new technology,” Froese said.

“[If we block the towers] we will be doing the vast majority of our residents a disservice.”

When the Telegraph Trail tower came to a vote, it was rejected 6-2,  with Mayor Froese and Councillor Grant Ward in favour (Councillor Bev Dornan was absent). The second tower was approved by a 5-3 vote.

The Township does not have the power to block construction of either tower, only to tell Industry Canada that it objects or does not object.

Both WIND applications were submitted before the Township adopted a new policy that requires cell phone companies to poll residents near a proposed cell tower.