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City seeks delay on new towers

City council wants a moratorium put on the installation of telecommunications towers within Guelph, and it has approved a new way of dealing with applications for new towers.

Among a series of recommendations that council has endorsed is a call for the federal Minister of Industry not to approve any new radiocommunications facilities in Guelph until a safety code related to such towers has been reviewed.

The current system for dealing with applications for installation of new towers “leads to a situation that frustrates the public and staff at the municipal level,” says a city staff report that went to council’s last meeting.

The current system allows Industry Canada, which has the final say on approval of tower applications, to ignore or overrule recommendations from municipal councils “without transparency to the decision-making process,” the report says.

This happened last spring, when the federal government gave Rogers Communications the go-ahead to build a 131-foot-tall telecommunications tower near the intersection of Gordon Street and Kortright Road, over the objections of city council and some area residents.

The city’s current policy on telecommunications towers, which was adopted in 2002, is outdated, the report says.

The issue was debated at a meeting earlier this month of council’s planning & building, engineering and environment committee.

The committee’s recommendations were endorsed, without debate, at council’s last meeting of the year.

Council approved the committee’s recommendation that Guelph adopt a new way of reviewing tower applications by joining a not-for-profit organization known as the Canadian Radiocommunications Information and Notification Service.

This organization provides a shared-service bureau that works on behalf of its members to “ensure that proper notification and public consultation processes occur and land use concerns are properly communicated to stakeholders,” the report says.

Launched in January 2012, the organization’s membership includes over 195 municipalities, with 300 more municipalities currently in the process of becoming members, the report says.

It uses an “antennae classification system that directs three levels of review and approval based on objective criteria.”

The report lists five reasons for Guelph becoming a member of the Canadian Radiocommunications Information and Notification Service:

• city hall will have complete access to information pertaining to existing and proposed locations of all radiocommunications facilities

• the city will be able to work with the organization to “establish its own protocol addendums that identifies sensitive areas within Guelph,” which would allow the organization to “better assist in the processing of all applications on behalf of the city”

• it won’t cost the city anything to be a member of the organization

• the city will be able to recover costs associated with tower applications from applicants through the levying of an application fee to be collected by the Canadian Radiocommunications Information and Notification Service

• the city will have voting rights and a share in the organization and will be entitled to have representation on the organization’s advisory board.

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