Council suppressing citizen input on proposed cell tower?

QB residents Dr. Fred and Carol Dowe, in a recent letter to the Mayor, Council, and Town Staff, raise objections about the public consultation process related to a controversial proposal for a 5G-capable cell tower. The following is a verbatim excerpt from the Dowes’ letter, written on behalf of a group of citizens concerned about the proposed construction of an additional cell tower in Qualicum Beach. — Ed.

September 18, 2020

To: Mayor and Council and Staff, Town of Qualicum Beach,

Bernie Ries, Regional Director ISED [Innovations, Science and Economic Development Canada, the decision maker of issuing the federal licence to cell tower proponents],

Gord Johns, Member of Parliament, and

Minister of Municipal Affairs, Victoria.

This letter is in response to your recent Council meeting held, Sept. 16, 2020.  I will be outlining the events up to this point.

1] A cell tower public consultation was being performed by Site Path Consulting back in February 2020 and was negated when Christian Fellowship Church canceled the contract, due to a huge number of people concerned about the effects of EMF radiation health and safety.

2] In March, 2020 (during Covid times), Telus once again resubmitted an application for public consultation process within 50 metres of the previous February, 2020 site.

3] In March, 2020,  we started writing our letters directly to Town of Qualicum Beach so that you would hear the stories directly from us (not filtered through the Sitepath Consulting group).   We started asking to be a delegation to provide information to the public about the safety and health concerns of EMF radiation to our children and grandchildren specifically because this tower would be located between 4 Day Care, and 2 elementary schools, let alone the vulnerable seniors/elderly and houses surrounding this potential tower site.

4]  We requested on 4 occasions to be a delegation to Town of Qualicum Beach regarding the concerns of health and safety around this proposed cell tower, and were told by Staff letter dated August 4, 2020: “The Town has not officially received an application from Telus to locate a cell tower at this time. Telus is currently doing their own public consultation based on two options for the location of a cell tower in Town boundaries.    If the Town receives an official request from Telus to locate a tower in Qualicum Beach, staff will request direction from the Council on how they would like to conduct any public consultation process.  As such, we will not be advancing individual requests for delegations relating to the cell tower at the upcoming Regular Council meetings at this time.”  By the way, Telus did not give the option of (No Cell Tower), but to choose one of the sites….very misleading.

5] August 7, 2020, we received a letter from Qualicum Beach Staff: “I can confirm that the Town did receive the application form Telus on Wed. August 5.  As I indicated in my August 4th email to you, “once the Town is in receipt of an official request from Telus to locate a tower in Qualicum Beach, staff will request direction from Council on how they would like to conduct any public consultation process”.    As such, staff will be preparing a report to go to Council at the August 19th Council meeting seeking direction from Council on next steps. We will not be advancing individual requests for delegations relating to the cell tower at the August 19th Regular meeting.”   During this time, Dr. Faulkner had written a letter to Mayor and Council (see the attachment named Dr. Faulkner letter)

6]  On August 19, 2020, at the Qualicum Beach Council meeting, the Agenda page 4 read:

Staff Recommendation:  THAT Council directs staff to invite members of the public to provide written feedback on the Land Use Concurrence request from TELUS Communications Inc. with a submission deadline of Sept 30, 2020.  By the way, in our conversation with  Mr. Bernie Ries, ISED, (who issues the federal licence to cell towers) he felt this was a reasonable public consultation process and would be calling the Town of Qualicum Beach to say that.

7]  At the August 19, 2020 Council meeting: Mayor and Council simply said an application had been made by Telus, and Council made a motion to accept the application without any public consultation process allowing a delegation of Dr. Faulkner to appear for the sake of the public and Council to learn about EMF radiation effects on our children and on us as adults.   By the way, you are aware that: In February, 2020,the  RDN(Regional District of Nanaimo) received Dr. Faulkner and Dr. Cline as a delegation to present on the effects of EMF radiation and 5G, and the Coombs cell tower was voted down with the exception of one.  I believe Mayor Wiese was present at this RDN meeting, and voted against this cell tower?

8]  Now most recently at the September 16, 2020 Council meeting Councillor Teunis Westbroek brought forward the Motion that was prepared by Carol Dowe during the recent Public Safety committee meeting she sits on, “That Council does accept the Qualicum Beach Staff’s recommendation for the public hearing to be held at the next Qualicum Beach Council meeting inviting Dr. Faulkner to come and present to Council”.   The vote was 6/2 in favour of presenting this Motion!

9] Councillor Walker tried to make a Motion to accept the above Motion, but:

Mayor Wiese, you said “I would argue that we’ve been doing public engagement on towers since January.  I think all of us in the room have received numerous emails, phone calls, chats on the street pro and against, and I’m not sure, I’d have to check with Heather, that we ever promised a delegation (1:00:55).   We were pretty staunch on that, I think once you go with a delegation opposed, then next thing you know, you have to have a delegation for and then decisions never get made (1:01:06)   I’ll be voting for, that we’re done with this one.

And I totally understand some people are afraid we are giving off radiation.  The reading I’ve done, I truly believe I don’t have that same feeling.  So that’s my prerogative.  I believe I share it with two or three members of Council, actually, I think I share that EMF/radiation feeling with most of Council.  I think all we’re doing here is, let’s have a delegation for the sake of having a delegation so they can speak, but we’re not going to change our mind.  I don’t think that’s fair to anyone (1:01:46)

Councillor Westbroek (1.01:46) said:  “What counsellor Walker has said is correct, that normally we would have people speak before we make a decision.  That’s what we indicated, and that’s what was in the report…  (1.902:23) But our CAO did send out, stop sending us these letters, wait until it comes to Council.  When it comes to Council, we just looked at all the letters we got and based on that, and I don’t want to put words in anybody’s mouth, but based on all the information we got that Telus received, we felt they already got the information and we could make a decision based on that. (1:02:45). So the comment from Councillor Walker of having a delegation before we make a decision would be appropriate(1:02:49)”

10] Then Councillor Harrison went on to making disparaging remarks regarding Dr. Faulkner to try and disqualify him.  May I remind you that the RDN (Regional District of Nanaimo) with some 19 members at their Feb. 2020 meeting, Dr. Faulkner and Dr Cline were invited as a delegation to speak to EMF radiation and 5G.  The RDN (Regional Dist. of Nanaimo voted down the Coombs cell tower.  Would they be more qualified than your comments in making this decision Councillor Harrison?

We are attaching Dr Faulkner’s letter that we read at the Public Safety meeting.

 11] And Dan Sailland, CAO, made the comment that “we are in the midst of a cell tower lease negotiations and would be in violation of those agreements”.  Have the leases actually been signed yet?    In speaking to Bernie Ries office recently, I learned that this process is not yet complete, no licence has been issued.  It would seem that Telus and Town of Qualicum Beach are in concert to rush this process through!!

12]  In conclusion, anyone looking at the above events, can see there is a process afoot to rush this process along, without proper public consultation.   Does the Council feel they are qualified to make these important decisions without hearing the overwhelming professional studies?

We all need to stop and take a deep breath and realize the impact of these important decisions.    The Qualicum Beach Council has a charter expectation to provide our democratic rights and we have the right to speak in Council meetings, as is done in our neighbouring municipalities.   All Canadians have fought hard and died for the rights described through the Charter and legislation.  This is being dismissed by Qualicum Beach Council, except Councillor Adam Walker and occasionally from Councillor Filmer and Councillor Westbroek.  In addition, I am somewhat concerned that this legislation is not understood by those that need to be utilizing a fair administrative process within Council meetings.  We are extremely disturbed that those who wish to attend Qualicum Beach Council meetings and utilize democratic rights are advised their rights and direction hold no value.  We fear that our democratic process has been eroded to provide bureaucratic convenience.

Dr. Fred and Carol Dowe for the Concerned Citizens Opposing the proposed cell tower at Village Way, Qualicum Beach