By Scott Costen
Opponents of a proposed telecommunications tower in Liverpool may be poised to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Following a public hearing Nov. 27, 2018, council voted 5-3 to approve Eastlink’s request to build a 200-foot cell tower at 119 Meadow Pond Lane. However, an administrative error by Region of Queens Municipality staff caused that vote to be invalidated and a second public hearing to be called.
It was standing-room only in council chambers this morning as concerned residents packed the public gallery for that second hearing. The only two people who spoke at the original hearing — Doug Millar and Peter Ripple — pleaded with council once again to vote against the project.
Millar, who lives on Crowell Street, distributed a document to council members before the hearing began. The document, titled “Reported Biological Effects from Radiofrequency Radiation at Low-Intensity Exposure,” listed a number of international studies and the health issues they associated with different radio frequency intensities.
“It would be in Eastlink’s best interest to deny that these problems exist because they have a dog in the fight: money,” Millar said during his remarks. “If people could see these radio waves, actually see them, they would be absolutely livid. But what people can’t see, they ignore.”
Millar asked councillors if they would want the tower erected near their homes. “If the honest answer is no,” he continued, “then why would you allow it for other people’s neighbourhoods?”
Ripple, who lives on Meadow Pond Lane, addressed both health and aesthetic issues. “The tower will rise about 170-feet above the treeline,” he said.
Ripple also noted Eastlink’s ability — and, in some cases, its obligation — to allow other telecommunications companies to add services to the tower without public consultation. “Every addition will multiply the amount of radiation produced,” he said.
Two other residents and one landowner spoke against the tower project before an influential new ally addressed council.
Dale Whynot, whose family owns the Quarterdeck resort and is currently building two eight-unit residential properties off Barss Street, spoke against the proposed tower. “We’re number one concerned about the unsightly view of a large tower next to our development,” he said. “And secondly, we’re very concerned about the unknown adverse health affects that cell towers may or may not (bring).”
Whynot said he plans to build more housing on the development he called Cobb’s Ridge. But that will only happen if council votes down the tower.
“Forty years ago, asbestos was safe,” Whynot said. “If we build a development there and in 10 years’ time we find out there are adverse health effects, all my tenants move out…”
Speaking from the back of the overflowing council chambers, Whynot said, “If this cell phone tower is erected, there’s two buildings being built there now, and there will only ever be two buildings built there. We can’t take that financial risk.”
The final vote on Eastlink’s proposal is expected to be held at the Feb. 12 council meeting. Councillors Kevin Muise, Brian Fralic and Jack Fancy dissented during the original 5-3 vote that was later invalidated. If their votes hold, opponents need only one more council member on their side to quash Eastlink’s application.
“A 4-4 tie means it’s a lost vote,” Mayor David Dagley confirmed after the meeting. “It’s a no vote.”