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August 11, 2015

Cell Tower 84 Meters from Daycare at the University of Calgary

Hello,

Please see our story below (including links of media coverage). I am trying to reach out to as many people as possible. Yes, I have a cell phone and I am not anti-technology, but I try to limit the exposure my kids get (I turn off our router at night, etc.). If they need to put it in “my backyard,” then at least they could put it further than 84 meters away (the West campus is mostly empty land).

Thanks,

Carol

AB, Calgary, The University of Calgary West Campus

Summary

An old Cell Phone Tower, sitting in an empty field, will be taken down to make room for commercial development of the U of C West Campus. As a result, the University needed to find an alternative location for a new Cell Phone Tower to honour a contractual obligation with Telus. On or around June 11, 2015, a new tower was constructed outside the Childhood Development Centre (CDC). The CDC is in close proximity to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospice, and Ronald McDonald House.

Although the new tower sits near a vulnerable population, no one in the area was consulted or notified prior to the tower being constructed. According to Bart Becker, vice-president of facilities with the University of Calgary, there are already eight towers and four cellphone antennae on campus and it is not standard practice for the university to hold public consultations prior to installing towers.

As the tower went up, parents and staff started asking questions and raising concerns. The University facilities team and Telus agreed to hold an after-the-fact information session. At the session, the CDC occupants were offered an apology and told that the U of C facilities department would review current protocols to support the university`s goal of timely and transparent engagement with U of C communities in the future. But, it was too late for us and the tower would stay regardless of concerns.

The U of C representatives assured us that “every effort was made to locate the cell phone tower as far away from the CDC as possible while providing vital communication services to the campus community and surrounding areas”. Within the City of Calgary Siting Protocols, putting cell phone towers “closer than 100 meters away from the nearest portion of a school building” is discouraged. The tower stands 84 meters away from the closest portion of the CDC on a parcel of land where, conveniently, no consultation was required. The University owns the land and they are not required or prepared to follow this recommendation. (Bart Becker is also a member of the Board of Directors of the West Campus Development Trust, responsible for the commercial development of the West campus. Developers don`t want a cell tower on the property. Simply put, the West campus commercial development is more profitable than a daycare / school and so the profit motive drives tower placement decisions. The tower is now tucked, out of sight, by the daycare).

While Health Canada strives to protect all Canadians, regardless of age, the Safety Code 6 Preface clearly states that “in a field where technology is advancing rapidly and where unexpected and unique exposure scenarios may occur, this code cannot cover all possible situations" (Safety Code 6 Preface, 2015). At the present time, there is a lack of essential research on cumulative biological effects. There is little to no data on exposure to radio frequency fields (as emitted by such a tower) on developing babies and children. It will be years until anyone can say, with any certainty, that this tower is safe and has no negative health effects for the children who will have exposure for 40-50 hours per week.  Innocent until proven guilty: At whose expense?  Health concerns aside, there were certainly better tower placement options on the West Campus. This spot was chosen because prior consultation was not required based on the use of lands.

A university, with a strategic goal to be one of the top five universities in Canada, should strive to achieve excellence at every level. In this case, however, the University facilities team does not even aspire to meet the City of Calgary’s minimum recommendations.

Additional Info:

The University's Strategy Statement

The University of Calgary will be a global intellectual hub located in Canada’s most enterprising city. In this spirited, high-quality learning environment, students will thrive in programs made rich by research and hands-on experiences. By our 50th anniversary in 2016, we will be one of Canada’s top five research universities, fully engaging the communities we both serve and lead.

(They did NOT consult us prior to the tower going up. We are part of the U of C Community).

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