Residents slam proposed Birch Cove cell tower

Eastlink representatives met with hostility at community meeting.

Representatives of Eastlink were met with irritated, sometimes even irate residents at a public information meeting regarding their application to construct a nine-story cell tower on the property of Birch Cove Baptist Church.

The meeting was held on Jan. 15 at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Halifax. Nearly 40 residents of the surrounding area, mostly seniors, were in attendance to voice their concerns with the proposed 30-metre tower, which included health concerns, aesthetics, and potential decreases in property value.

Birch Cove Baptist Church, whose lands the proposed tower is located on. (Photo by John Sandham)
Birch Cove Baptist Church, whose lands the proposed tower is located on. (Photo by John Sandham)

Reg Verge, who lives on Donaldson Avenue, says that Eastlink shouldn’t be proposing a tower in a residential neighbourhood. He also says that he believes they haven’t done enough research to ensure there are no other sites in the area on which they could locate the tower.

“Eastlink shouldn’t be allowed to make their profits by just putting towers wherever they want, especially in residential zones,” Verge said.

Besides being an eyesore, residents suggested that the tower might pose a threat to their health. Although many studies attempting to associate an increase in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer with exposure to telecommunications towers have proven inconclusive, locals still believe their proximity to the tower will have a negative impact on their health.

The tower’s necessity was also called into question at the meeting. While Eastlink maintained its position that the tower is necessary not only to upgrade the service it provides to the area, but also to expand its service area, those in attendance thought otherwise and questioned whether or not Eastlink had actually received complaints from people in the area regarding the quality of its service.

Halifax city planner Carl Purvis speaks at the meeting (Photo by John Sandham)
Halifax city planner Carl Purvis speaks at the meeting. (Photo by John Sandham)

“I don’t want another cell tower,” said Larry Pope, who also lives on Donaldson Avenue, across the street from the proposed site. A 20-metre Bell Aliant tower already exists on the same property and it too was met with criticism from the local community. Despite the efforts of locals to stop its construction, the tower went up anyway.

Eastlink made no offer to withdraw its proposal immediately following the meeting. Verge and his neighbours say they won’t give up fighting until that happens.

“We’re all working together to get this stopped,” Verge said. “We don’t want any kind of a cellular tower there at all.”

Halifax city planners will now reexamine the application, taking the public’s reaction into account, before making a recommendation to Industry Canada, which ultimately makes the final call on all telecommunication-related infrastructure.