On February 5th, Industry Canada’s Minister made an announcement bearing the title “Harper Government Making Changes to Cell Tower Placement Rules”.
Industry Canada’s current governing document is CPC-2-0-03. A notice has been posted stating that changes to the document will be made subsequent yesterday’s announcement. Rest assured RAC will convey to IC in the strongest of terms that no changes be made that would negatively affect the amateur radio antenna installations currently in place. RAC does not believe this policy change announcement was generated by problems caused by the amateur radio community. RAC further believes the current 15m height has worked well for several years. Amateur radio antenna structures, like those used to receive off the air television or listen to short wave broadcasts are different in many ways from cell phone towers:
- they are usually much smaller and not as visibly intrusive
- they are operated by citizens for their personal use, not by companies
- they are usually located on the property of the user’s residence
- they are operated intermittently rather than the continuous operation of commercial antenna systems
- the population of radio amateurs and consequently the number of their antennas is growing slowly at about the growth rate of the general population, unlike the exponential growth in wireless communications creating the pressure for rapidly increasing numbers of cell phone towers there has been no popular expression of concern over amateur radio or personal use antennas, unlike cell phone towers
RAC has been instrumental in a number of communities in establishing public consultation protocols that recognize the differences between commercial cell towers and personal use or amateur radio antennas and so to permit amateur radio antenna structures in excess of 15m without consultation. RAC has always been willing to work with Industry Canada in consultations that take into account the needs of the general community and amateur radio operators.
Radio amateurs are most noticed by the general community when they fill in for failing communications systems such as has happened with floods and ice storms or provide communications for community events. The Canadian Ski Marathon taking place this weekend relies on amateur radio volunteers for the communications essential to the operations of the event and the safety of its participants. 2014 marks the 41st year radio amateurs provided this support. Similar community activities take place around the year and across the country. To develop the expertise that allows radio amateurs to help their communities in this way radio amateurs need antennas. We must be very careful not to make it needlessly difficult to install antennas as that would over time reduce the number of people able to provide these important community services.
We will provide regular updates on this announcement going forward as the situation warrants.
Yours in amateur radio,
Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC Vice-President Regulatory Affairs