Cell tower conflict continues in Qualicum Beach — protesters say public consultation was improper

About 50 protesters and counter-protesters gathered in Qualicum Beach to express concerns over a proposed cell tower. Photo by Tyler Hay
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“I think it is like anything else, it is NIMBYism. I think that people are carrying around a cell phone in their pocket that is obviously tied into a tower somewhere," said one counter-protester.

A proposed cell tower in Qualicum Beach continues to divide the community. Protesters and counter protesters gathered near the proposed sites for the tower on Saturday to show dissent and support for the project.

“There was an improper public consultation process and we are reacting to our mayor and council not giving us a chance to hear from the two doctors,” said Carol Dowe, one of the organizers of the protest, speaking to a crowd of about 50 at the entrance to Qualicum Beach.

Carol Dowe speaks at a rally against a purposed cell tower in Qualicum Beach on Saturday, Sept. 26. PHOTO BY TYLER HAY

Town council decided not to hear a presentation from Dr. Stephen Faulkner, who has spoken out against building cell towers because of health concerns, at a council meeting earlier this month.

Protesters expressed concerns over the proposed locations for the tower and possible health effects of radio frequencies.

“I’m personally sensitive to electro-magnetic frequencies and radio frequencies and all of us are, but people to various degrees — and it bothers me because it has never been tested on human kind and it affects the growth of trees; of birds; of insects; of bees. It’s even affecting the bees because it throws them off with their navigation and stuff like that,” said Saoirse, one protester, who preferred Oceanside News not include her last name.

Counter protesters expressed concerns over the ability to use cell phones in emergencies and said there is a need for better service.

“I think it is like anything else, it is NIMBYism. I think that people are carrying around a cell phone in their pocket that is obviously tied into a tower somewhere. They obviously don’t care where that tower is, they are OK to use their cell phone, but don’t put it in my back yard,” said Tim Benesh, who organized the counter protest.

Counter-protesters attended the event to show support fo the purposed tower. PHOTO BY TYLER HAY

The Canadian government website has a section dedicated to cell phone, towers and radio frequencies, “Health Canada continues to monitor all domestic and international scientific evidence on radio frequency EMF and health. Should new scientific evidence emerge to demonstrate that exposure to radio frequency EMF at levels below the Canadian limits is a health concern, the Government of Canada would take action to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” it says.

Benesh said he does not believe the government would lie about adverse health effects and he believes the other side of the argument has no scientific backing. 

“You should read about it. I believe that if you read about it and you look at all the solid signs that’s talking about it, you will see that — see I am not against technology, but I want safe technology,” said Saoirse.

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