Communication Facilities Protocol Project
Frequently Asked Questions on Communication Facilities
1. Who regulates and approves communication towers?In Canada, all communication systems are governed by Federal legislation and regulations. For wireless communications facilities (cell towers, antennae, etc.), Industry Canada, Spectrum Management & Telecommunications, is the licensing body. Communication companies must apply to Industry Canada for a licence to operate an installation at each specific location. The City of Winnipeg is not the approving authority for communication installations. However, as part of the licensing process, Industry Canada requires that the communication companies (referred to as the carriers) contact the City of Winnipeg for input. The City reviews these proposals, and sends a response to Industry Canada indicating whether or not the proposed installation can be supported.
2. What role does the City play in the location of communication installations?The City receives and reviews each communication installation proposal. Each proposal is reviewed for information regarding the type, size, and location of the installation. Where a public consultation process is required under the Communication Facility Protocol, the documentation of this process is also reviewed. In the case of towers, the co-location (or co-utilization) information is also reviewed and additional information requested, if appropriate. Co-location means the use of a communications tower, either existing or proposed, by two or more carriers. The City may also negotiate with the carriers regarding the location, height, type or size of a proposed tower. Currently, the aim is to reduce the visual impact of proposed towers as much as possible. Placing antenna arrays on existing tall structures, such as, electric towers and the rooftops of high-rise buildings is preferred and encouraged (but cannot be compelled). Placing towers in buildings or disguising them is also preferred. Using monopoles rather than latticework towers is another preference that is negotiated with the various carriers.
3. What City policies address proposed communication installations?Currently there are no local policies to address communication facilities. City Council is proposing to establish a Communication Facilities Protocol to provide policy direction on the consultation process and the siting, design and development of new or expanding communication facilities. Under the Protocol, cell towers that are proposed to be 15 metres (49.2 feet) or higher and to be located within close proximity of residential development (within a radius of 3 times the height of the proposed communication facility) must undergo a consultation process with the surrounding property owners. Towers that are less than 15 metres in height do not require a consultation process. The carrier must notify all property owners within a radius of 3 times the height of the proposed communication facility. The local Councillor and Member of Parliament must also be notified. The section dealing with co-utilization requires a carrier wishing to install a tower to identify other cell towers within a 500 metre (1604 foot) radius from the proposed tower. The carrier must provide documentation to show it has investigated the possibility of co-locating. This means either locating its antenna arrays on one of those existing towers or else offering other carriers the opportunity to share space on its proposed tower.
4. Are licensees required to comply with zoning by-laws?There are many provincial and local requirements such as municipal zoning by-laws that relate only incidentally to radiocommunication and are outside the purview of federal law. That being said, radiocommunication is a field exclusively within the legislative competence of the federal government. Therefore, matters that affect the establishment of federally authorized radio stations are clearly governed by the Radiocommunication Act and the policies there under. However, Industry Canada's policy is to seek meaningful local input with respect to antenna siting. As outlined in the Department's Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-03, Industry Canada requires proponents to work with local land-use authorities and to accommodate reasonable local requirements. On occasion, local requirements may unduly impede the deployment of radiocommunication facilities or land-use authorities and proponents may not be able to reach concurrence with respect to local requirements. In those cases, proponents can petition Industry Canada for a decision in accordance with CPC-2-0-03. The City of Winnipeg is amending its zoning by-law rules relating to communication facilities in an effort to clarify its zoning information and be transparent about the City’s level of authority and role in the tower siting and development process.
5. Does a communication tower installation need a Development Permit?No, a development permit is not required. Communication towers are under Federal jurisdiction and subject to licensing by Industry Canada. The submissions by the carriers to the City are not development permit applications, and the Winnipeg Public Service does not "approve" or "refuse" these submissions. Rather, the City indicates its support or lack of support for each proposal based on an evaluation of each proposal.
6. How will I know if a new antenna tower is being proposed for installation in my neighbourhood, and how can I share my views?Anyone planning to install an antenna tower must follow the procedures of the local municipality, which may include a requirement to notify local residents. If a municipality does not have any procedures in place, then Industry Canada's procedures must be followed. This can include written notification to residents and groups within a radius of three times the height of the proposed structure. Citizens having questions or comments about proposed antenna towers can make their views known through the consultation process. More information on procedures can be found on Industry Canada's website at www.ic.gc.ca/antenna.
7. Why does the antenna tower have to be in my neighbourhood?The location of antenna towers is important in providing the quality of service that the public expects. Radio waves are limited in how far they can travel while still being reliable. Demand for wireless services is increasing rapidly; to meet this demand, more towers are required, often closer to users.
8. Can existing towers, or other antenna-supporting structures, be used?Industry Canada requires antenna tower proponents to use existing structures. In some instances, because of technical or other constraints, sharing a structure is not always feasible.
9. Can I appeal the proposed installation of the tower?No. Once again, as communication towers are Federally regulated and licensed, and, as there is no development permit issued by the City of Winnipeg, there is no appeal procedure for proposed communication towers.
10. Does the proposed communication tower site require an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw?No. Just as a development permit is not taken because telecommunication installations are Federally regulated and licensed, a land use amendment is not needed to allow the location of a communication installation on any site within the city.
11. Does a proposed communication tower site require posting of a Public Notice?No. The City posts Public Notices of certain types of development permit applications (rezonings, variances, conditional uses, etc) to inform the residents of neighbouring properties and the immediate area of a pending development. However, as the development permit application process is not applicable to communication facilities, there is no posting of a Public Notice on the sites proposed for communication tower installations.
12. What is the required public notification process?The carrier must notify all property owners within a radius of 3 times the height of the proposed communication facility. The notification may be mailed or hand-delivered, and must include information regarding: • date, time and place of the public information session, where required; • location, type, and size of the proposed antenna structure; • rationale for site selection; • name and telephone number of a contact person representing the carrier • name and telephone number of the local Area Planner at the City of Winnipeg; and • deadline date for receipt of public comments.
13. Why must the tower be painted and have lights?Paint and lights ensure that the tower is visible to aircraft. Proponents must ensure their proposals for any antenna system are first reviewed by Transport Canada. Transport Canada will advise the proponent of any potential hazard to air navigation and the standards relating to painting and lighting for the antenna tower. Tower marking options may be available and, where concern exists, these options should be discussed with the proponent.
14. Are there any safety guidelines to protect the public's health?Health Canada has safety guidelines for exposure to radio frequency fields in its Safety Code 6 publication entitled Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz. While the responsibility for developing Safety Code 6 rests with Health Canada, Industry Canada has adopted this guideline for the purpose of protecting the general public. Industry Canada requires all radiocommunication and broadcasting operators to comply with Safety Code 6 at all times, including the consideration of combined effects of nearby installations within the local radio environment. Further, operators must respect updates made to Safety Code 6.
15. Are environmental concerns taken into consideration?Yes. Installation and modification of antenna systems must comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
16. How is the general public protected from overexposure to radio frequency fields?To protect the general public, Health Canada has developed a safety guideline entitled "Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz" which is commonly referred as Safety Code 6. This document has been adopted by many organizations across Canada and referred to in a number of regulations. Industry Canada has adopted Safety Code 6 for the protection of the general public. If exposures do not exceed the limits specified in Safety Code 6, then there is no convincing scientific evidence that any adverse health effects will occur.
17. Are there any requirements or standards governing the amount of exposure to radiofrequency radiation or electro-magnetic fields from communication towers?The Protocol will not address health and safety as those issues are separately regulated by Health Canada. Specific information about Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 can be found on the Health Canada web site http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php or by writing to: Consumer & Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, 775 Brookfield Road, PL6302C, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1C1.
18. How does Industry Canada ensure that radiocommunication and broadcasting installations respect Health Canada's limits for the protection of the public from radio frequency fields?While the responsibility for developing Safety Code 6 rests with Health Canada, Industry Canada has adopted the same guideline for the purpose of protecting the general public. Industry Canada requires that all proponents and operators ensure that their radiocommunication and broadcasting installations comply with Safety Code 6 at all times. Proponents and operators must also consider the combined effects of nearby installations within the local radio environment. For more information, consult CPC-2-0-03. Furthermore, Industry Canada conducts its own assessments and audits as required.
19. Where can I find more information?The process for all antenna systems in Canada is outlined in Industry Canada's Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-03 entitled Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems. More information is available on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at www.ic.gc.ca/antenna, including CPC-2-0-03.
20. Who can I contact if I have more questions about communication facilities?Zoning and Permits Branch, Planning Property and Development Department, City of Winnipeg, 31-30 Fort Street (Fort Garry Place), Phone: (204)986-5140 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 19, 2010
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