Canadian Telecos Cannot Override Cell Tower Vetoes By Local Governments | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

Canadian Telecos Cannot Override Cell Tower Vetoes By Local Governments

Trees near cell tower

Canadian Telecos Cannot Override Cell Tower Vetos 

By Local Governments

Excerpts of correspondence between Suzanne Schiller, for VISTA, and Bernie Ries, Manager of the Vancouver Island District Office (ISED)

Jan. 24, 2023 

Dear Mr. Ries,

Please provide me with  

1) the specific specific federal legislation (Act and section/clause) that states that ISED  

  • can override provincial legislation and provincial authorities 
  • can override zoning by-laws that a municipality may have.  


February 15, 2023

Hi Bernie,

I am still waiting patiently for your reply to my questions…

My understanding is that in law, if it is not stated in black and white that you CAN do it, then you cannot do it… 


[What is] the basis on which ISED “considers the effects on the environment and local land use before towers are installed” — when we know that there are no laws or regulations in Canada to protect flora and fauna from RF-EMR. How can ISED consider effects on the environment when it doesn’t know what RF-EMR exposure limits are safe for the environment and for wildlife because no safety limits have been established? Please provide me with the information you rely on to make this assessment/consideration.  

February 25th, 2023

Good day Suzanne,

Since municipalities are directly impacted by towers in their community, our procedures also allow municipalities to define their own antenna siting procedures and make informed decisions in regards to providing concurrence for the proposed tower.

As such, any questions or concerns regarding specific proposed antenna structures and their impact on local wildlife and vegetation, should be directed to your local land-use authority (municipality) [Islands Trust] and, if applicable, the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission.


Bernie Ries

Operations Manager, STS-Western Region

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada / Government of Canada

March 2nd

Dear Mr. Ries, 

What you didn’t say in your reply: You did not provide the legislative proof I requested that shows ISED can override provincial legislation and municipal bylaws

    You also did not provide the evidence that ISED relies upon to “consider” the effects of a tower siting on the surrounding environment. 

    I have confirmed via a Freedom of Information request (attached) that indeed ISED does not have any evidentiary basis for considering the environment.   

    Surely ISED will recognize that what members of the public consider “reasonable and relevant concerns” is often in stark contrast to the limited scope of concerns allowed in ISED’s CPC-2-0-03 Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems protocols. 

    …we have been in contact with individuals and community groups all over our region; the primary concern they have expressed is, first and foremost, protecting the health of people, wildlife, and the environment. If ISED is truly consultative, it will amend CPC-2-0-03 to include health-related concerns within the category of “reasonable and relevant concerns” addressed during the public consultation process. 

    Your reply also indicates that ISED recognizes that municipalities are responsible for making “informed decisions in regards to providing concurrence for the proposed tower.” In order to make informed decisions, municipalities need to be advised of the current, high-quality independent research demonstrating the harms of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) to human health, animals, pollinators, birds and trees and the fact that major insurance companies will not cover health-related claims arising from RFR exposure.  

    Can you affirm that ISED and Health Canada have provided municipalities with this information?  And if not, how can municipalities make an evidence-based decision that protects their community’s health and wellbeing if they have not been fully apprised of both the benefits and the risks? 

    I am left to conclude that while telecommunications and the siting of antenna-supporting structures is federally regulated

1) ISED does not have legislative authority to override provincial legislation governing land use, 

2) municipalities have the authority to set their own telecommunications procedures and to make ‘informed decisions’ that are in the public’s interest when deciding whether or not to grant a letter of concurrence for a proposed tower.   

    …please communicate these two points to our municipal and provincial officials.  At the moment, they seem to be operating under the mistaken assumption that because telecommunications are federally regulated, they have no authority to stop the towers. 

    Please let them know that they have the authority, indeed the duty, to comply with municipal and provincial acts and regulations and to represent the interest of their constituents, the primary interest being protecting and promoting public health.    



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