Tiny hangs up on cell tower opponents as concurrence granted

North Simcoe residents against local telecommunication towers were putting in some mileage as they continued their opposition of 1445 Cedar Point Rd. during the recent Tiny Township council meeting.

As a point of procedure, the minutes of a previous meeting require adoption at the next meeting of council; such was the case for the slideshow presentation by Forbes Bros. Ltd., on behalf of Rogers.

While Tiny committee of the whole members had voted in favour of a letter of concurrence for the cell tower weeks ago as all conditions had been met from a municipal standpoint, in the adoption of minutes at the recent council meeting Coun. Dave Brunelle requested it be explored further for deferral or a re-vote.

Brunelle’s motion, while not up for debate, was given a question by Coun. Steffen Walma who asked staff if there was a risk liability for the township given that the policy criteria had been fulfilled.

Planning and development director Maryann Hunt responded: “The letter of concurrence – they’re waiting for that from you, but ultimate approval rests with the federal agencies. It’s been my understanding that there have been approval of the towers with no concurrence letters from municipalities; but they do take that into account.”

A split decision on Brunelle’s motion meant it was defeated; Deputy Mayor Sean Miskimins was absent from the meeting. The defeat caused opposition in attendance to loudly utter the Lord’s name in vain – misunderstanding that the regular discussion would continue.

Walma reiterated that the proponents had fulfilled their end of the deal; Coun. Kelly Helowka restated his concerns regarding health concerns around hydro tower corridors; Brunelle grilled staff on the validity of proper notification being given to residents in the affected area.

Audience members – a near-identical group who had opposed a proposed cell tower in Penetanguishene the week prior – attempted to interject throughout the council discussion, but were sternly reminded that their question period had been provided at the start of the evening and no more input would be received from anyone other than council and staff. The chastising caused some of the audience to vocally disperse from the meeting.

“I’m fully in favour of this,” shared Mayor Dave Evans. “The resident landowner that is having this on his property is in agreement with it. Health Canada has agreed with it, Rogers has gone through everything in an enhanced process to do it; and there’s a whole bunch of people at Cedar Point that don’t have cell phone coverage.”

When Evans continued by saying he hadn’t been convinced of proven medical harm by cell towers, the audience reacted harshly; he reprimanded them again before speaking slowly to them. “My opinion,” he firmly stated, “is that nobody has yet provided concrete medical evidence to claim and to prove that this is happening.”

Brunelle was provided an opportunity to speak, whereupon he read off the perceived flaws in the science of the matter, gaining applause from those in attendance.

The vote for the letter of concurrence was taken, and was approved by council to the vocal despair of the attendees.

The following item on the agenda was the updated 16-page slideshow from Forbes Bros. Ltd. which provided the Rogers, Health Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada conclusions on Safety Code 6 and other scientific methods, as requested by council at the previous meeting.

However, audience members in opposition had vacated council chambers prior to its approval on the agenda, which was given without further discussion.

The minutes of the Forbes Bros. Ltd. letter of concurrence, as well as the health and safety slide presentation, can be viewed on the agenda page on the Township of Tiny website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on the township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca