Skip to content

Telus looks to potentially make temporary site permanent

A temporary cellphone tower located a half block from Lawrence Grassi Middle School could become permanent, however, the company in charge says the town is in “really good shape” concerning the amount of radio frequency energy it emits.

A temporary cellphone tower located a half block from Lawrence Grassi Middle School could become permanent, however, the company in charge says the town is in “really good shape” concerning the amount of radio frequency energy it emits.

Two weeks ago, representatives from Telus, the cellphone company that owns the tower, conducted tests in and around the school after concerns were raised from local residents and parents regarding potential health affects.

Using specialized equipment involving a measurement box technicians wear around their head that’s connected to a handheld antenna, Telus said it was able to identify the strength of all radio frequencies in town.

“We know that in the town we identified upwards of a dozen different significant sources of radio energy,” said Jim Johannsson, director of media relations for Telus.

“By far the strongest source of radio energy in the town, on average, was the local FM radio station,” he said. “The equipment is all calibrated to show us how well the signals comply with Health Canada Safety Code 6 standards.”

According to Health Canada, Safety Code 6 establishes safety limits for human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy and acts as the scientific basis for equipment certification in Industry Canada’s regulatory compliance documents, which govern the use of wireless devices such as cell towers.

“We did a number of measurements outside and around town and then we also did a number of measurements inside the school with the support of the school board,” Johannsson said.

“Inside the school, what we found is the local FM radio station is producing a signal, depending on which side of the school you’re in, from two to five times stronger than the signal from the cellphone antenna,” he added.

The director pointed out that tests were done in the front entrance to the school as well as in the northeast and southeast wings and overall the signal level is very low.

“Even if we were to look at the signal from the FM radio station inside the school, the strongest location was actually inside the front entrance… It’s 0.0005 per cent of the Health Canada Safety Code 6 limit,” he said.

“It’s literally tens of thousands of times below the Health Canada limit,” he added.

Johannsson also noted the FM radio station uses a lower frequency than what’s used for cellphones since they penetrate buildings better than higher frequencies, which could be the reason why the station has a stronger signal within the school.

“Steel walls actually attenuate the signals quite dramatically to the point where you might not get any useable signal from a cellphone in a steel building,” he explained. “Shopping malls tend to be bad places for cellphones.”

Despite pleas from those across the country who oppose the construction of cell towers near their homes or public buildings such as schools, Health Canada says there is a consensus among the scientific community.

“RF energy from cellphone towers is too low to cause adverse health effects in humans,” according to Health Canada’s website. “In fact, RF exposures from cellphone towers are typically well below Health Canada’s exposure standards.”

However, some organizations, such as the not-for-profit Citizens for Safe Technology claim symptoms of ill health occur worldwide from people exposed to wireless technologies.

Some recent posts on its website ( indicate cellphone use has an effect on pregnancy and fertility while another study claims radiation emitted from portable devices may damage DNA and disrupt the process of DNA repair.

“One source that we’ve found fairly significantly across the country is the concern about the aesthetic of the cellphone antenna,” Johannsson said. “The health reason tends to be the one people try to play.

“Everyone is concerned about his or her health,” he continued. “Nobody wants anything in their community that poses a health risk. I think that’s where a lot of the misinformation finds a feeding ground.”

Telus has been looking for an alternate location for the cell tower for months and although they have found a potential site, it does not have a signed lease option from the owner of the property in question.

Until that issue is resolved, Telus will not hold a public consultation, however, once a specific site is approved or even if this current temporary tower is proposed to become permanent, a public meeting will be held where residents will be able to ask questions.

“The reality is, inside the school, even if we turned off the temporary antenna and relocated it to another site, we will not change the amount of exposure to kids inside the school,” he said.

“There’s no safety reason and no reason based on physics and engineering to move the site,” he continued. “It’s based on will it make people more comfortable from an anxiety perspective.

“The bottom line is the community is actually in really good shape when it comes to radio frequency energy within the safety limits. We know there will likely be objectors to any location that we propose. We have to take those views into account before we move forward to the next step.”

Rocky Mountain Outlook

About the Author: Rocky Mountain Outlook

The Rocky Mountain Outlook is Bow Valley's No. 1 source for local news and events.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks