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Freedom Mobile Reception in Sooke Hits Roadblock, Cell Tower Plan Rejected

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Shaw’s Freedom Mobile proposed to build a 50-metre cell tower in Sooke on Vancouver Island, but the plan has been rejected by the district municipality’s council, putting a dent in the wireless carrier’s plan to expand coverage.

Sooke is located about 38km west of Victoria, the province’s capital and some areas in the region still suffer from low cell coverage. The proposal to install a cell tower along the 5000 block of Sooke Road was voted against by Mayor Maja Tait, as several Glinz Road residents opposed the application, reports Sooke News Mirror.

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Tait said the Freedom Mobile tower could be built without the municipality’s approval, but the carrier needs to consult with land use authorities when surveying new tower locations, based on Industry Canada regulations, with the latter holding the final decision.

“I do appreciate what Freedom is trying to do in terms of service,” she said. “The challenge is the impact it has on the neighbourhood.”

The tower would allow Freedom Mobile customers to gain continuous coverage from Sooke Road from the town centre and east towards Victoria.

Residents nearby the proposed tower area cited concerns related to health, aesthetics of the tower and property value signs, with a 20-name petition against the application presented to council.

Only Coun. Kerrie Reay supported the Freedom Mobile application, adding users on social media supported the idea of added cellphone reception. She also presented data from the Canadian Cancer Society and World Health Organization to note health concerns would be minimal with cell towers.

“I’m trying to step back and take the emotional side out of it,” she said. “I just feel with everything I’ve read and all the various sites … I do support what’s requested to council by Freedom Mobility.”

“I think dependency on cellphones has become critical in today’s society,and for many people in Sooke and across the nation, people no longer need land lines.”” she said, adding Sooke has 49 telecommunication towers in the district, including two on top of Municipal Hall.

Coun. Brenda Parkinson said the towers should be in areas further away from people or neighbourhoods, while Coun. Bev Berger added “It be more beneficial for Industry Canada to hear what the residents have to say rather than us. We have no jurisdiction.”

Freedom Mobile recently gained wireless spectrum from Videoton’s parent company, Quebecor, which includes expansion capabilities within British Columbia.

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  • raslucas

    This stuff about health concerns… There STILL hasn’t been any evidence of cell phone frequency (or WIFI) causing any such problems. And second… They think the cell towers should be further away from people??? You mean far enough where they don’t get reception from the tower???

    I think towers should be easier to get approved to be built… With the caveat of higher requirements on camouflaging them. There are plenty of places that do a really good job of that…

    That’s a solid trade off.

  • Riddlemethis

    The current data regarding cell phone health and safety used by the government and the cancer society is ridiculously dated the data would be considered obsolete by any statistician. There’s ample empirical evidence to indicate it is unsafe. Just watch cbc marketplace regarding cell phone radiation.

  • Marc Purdon

    The CBC story is about radiation from your phone not the towers…. Nearby towers means less power needed to transmit from your phone (right into your head)

  • Samano

    Bell Telus an Rogers must be laughing an coming up with ways to hike their prices

  • henndrix1

    These are the same dumb asses who voted for higher taxes to combat global warming. Fake news! The big 3 elites succeeded their continued monopoly.

  • Hello Moto ?????????

    Let me just put my tinfoil hat on before I can understand your post!

  • specialk2000

    Do you have WiFi in your home? You think the signal from that is any different from a cell tower?

  • Bill___A

    I live in an area of Calgary which had very poor mobile service for a number of years because of “local” opposition. Finally, the mobile companies were allowed to put up towers in two areas that had been initially refused, and I believe it was because they bought the spectrum and are allowed to use it. I think it was a couple of very vocal people only as in the years since then, not much at all has been said about it and people like to have mobile service. The arguments presented by the people in this Sooke case are absurd Property values do not go down when there is mobile service.
    In fact, not having mobile service is a detriment It affects mobility, accessiblity and many other things. Anyone – anyone who lives somewhere with power lines, street lights roads etc…….so you really think a mobile tower is going to change the “look” so much? It is absurd. All they have done is prove why the “local” people should not have a final say. I am not fan of “freedom” mobile but at the same time, they have spectrum licenses, they need to be allowed to use it.

  • Bill___A

    Very valid point, I believe there are three power levels on a handheld phone, at least there were at one time, and having a tower nearby reduces the transmit power.

  • cayaguy

    WHY would freedom put a tower here(in the middle of nowhere… I’ve got family who lives two houses away from the proposed site) when they don’t have ANY native service on Vancouver island??!!? Or is this one of many applications to put service in new markets such as GVRD????

  • SV650

    It likely is part of a grand plan to cover the greater Victoria area. In the city, it is straightforward to place cellular antennae on buildings to ensure coverage. No permits needed. In the middle of nowhere, southern Vancouver Island, a taller tower is needed to provide coverage to a smaller client base, as you suggest. Strikes me that placing a tower north of the intersection of Smoke Road and Connie Road would have limited impact on residential use in the surrounding area.

  • Quattro

    Marketplace was once a great show – decades ago. In recent years, however, it has absolutely no credibility as every episode that I have seen seeks to create drama with an exceedingly narrow perspective that supports the show’s anti-business bias and always fails to look at all relevant facts.

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