Ting Wu never wanted the cellphone antenna near his house.
But then to receive a request for public input, after Telus had already erected the 15-metre poles and installed equipment on them, makes it appear to him that the company doesn’t really care what the public thinks.
“They’ve already installed everything – they’re doing it backward,” said Wu.
“That’s not right for Canada – for a democratic society.”
He is the proprietor of Formosa Farms, which has been worked by three generations of his family at the corder of Golden Ears Way and 203rd Street
Wu has a 40-acre organic blueberry farm, and said he had been in touch with Telus, offering a place somewhere on his “back 40,” away from residences. He said the location of the two poles at the intersection of Golden Ears Way and 203rd Street is too close to houses.
“This is radiating people right around it – it’s just too close,” he said. “Just because it hasn’t been proven, doesn’t mean it’s not doing harm.”
“How can they put up anything without approval or consultation,” he asked. “People should have more input into where they put these transmitters.”
Wu said he hopes to have the poles moved before they are active.
“They [Telus] say they are listening to the public. Do they do anything about it, though?”
The neighbour closest to the pole on the south side of the street is Farron Vaughan, who also wants to see it moved. He said it is less than 20 meters from his house.
“I don’t think it should be placed where people are living or growing food,” he said.
Vaughan has been doing his own online research into the health effects of being near cell phone towers, and he considers the issue inconclusive.
“We’re being used as Guinea pigs,” he said. “I’d rather not be one.”
Telus says the new antennas are not operational, and if it has the installation/consultation process backward, it’s because the federal government changed the process last year.
Spokesperson Liz Sauve said planning began in 2013 to “enhance capacity in that area,” and near the end of 2014 the poles were installed.
Since then, Industry Canada has changed the process for installing this infrastructure, requiring more public consultation.
So, she said the installations will not be turned on until the company holds an open house to get public feedback, and receives approval from Pitt Meadows council.
Sauve said the poles will be shrouded with trees so they are less visible.
She said Health Canada’s Code 6 governs radio frequency infrastructure, and the Telus levels are “many times below what Canada deems as safe.”
She said the public wants their cellphones and tablets to work without dropping calls, and 9-1-1 access makes coverage a safety issue.
“It’s critically important to public safety.”
Planner Dana Parr said Pitt Meadows city hall has received notification from Telus, and the issue will be before council at a future meeting.
City hall has also heard complains from Wu.
“Obviously, people there are concerned, so we’ll see what council has to say,” said Parr.