The Telus 5G Tower set for installation at Pople Park was given the go ahead at Trail City Council on Monday, July 19.
Trail council welcomed Telus technician Brian Gregg to the meeting to respond to residents’ concerns over the planned install at the Shavers Bench park.
Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac explained to council that after further inspection, Telus requested to move the tower from the southeast corner of the park to the northwest corner, where there already was an existing power supply.
“In reviewing Telus’ request for the change, it was felt that this site chosen would be best served for access to Telus and both preserving the field for its use,” said McIsaac.
The 52.3-metre mono-pole tower will be maintained by Telus and designed to bring improved wireless high-speed internet and cell service to Trail. In addition, Telus would pay an annual fee of $15,000 to the city for the use of the property.
The whole project was motivated by complaints from Trail customers for slow internet or dropped cell phone calls, said Gregg.
Yet, in Telus’ public consultation, health concerns were foremost in the minds of residents. In response, Gregg explained that any company that uses radio frequencies must conform to Health Canada Safety Code 6.
Safety Code 6 sets out recommended safety limits for human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz.
“Any company that uses equipment that uses radio frequency technology, so that’s not just cell sites, that’s radio stations and everything down to devices as small as baby monitors.
“In order to be able to use the radio frequency spectrum that we operate on, we are legally required to comply with Health Canada Safety Code.”
The Telus frequency is well below the recommended range, and with a 150-foot antenna tower, it’s virtually impossible for someone to be exposed to it.
Council questioned Gregg on the possibility of erecting the tower elsewhere.
Coun. Robert Cacchioni objected to erecting the tower in Pople Park and suggested other locations.
“I don’t see a lot of people saying they want a tower, a 50-meter tower in their neighbourhood,” said Cacchioni.
“When you are thinking about the citizens in Trail, where they live and whether or not they want to be exposed to that particular tower, you have to think to yourself, ‘Do I want it next to my house, or 50 yards from my house, or wherever it happens to be?”
Gregg said that Telus did look at a property in Mural Heights but the company could not come to an agreement with the property owner.
“The reason Pople Park was selected was because it is really centrally located within an area where we are trying to deliver not only voice service but also data service, so wireless high-speed internet access,” said Gregg. “And we find that when we’re siting our infrastructure specifically for data service, we actually want to be within the residential area we’re aiming to service.
“This location, Telus’ team believes, is the best site to deliver those services.”
The 5G service is the next evolution of wireless services from the current 4G LTE network in Trail, and this new cell tower will enable 5G service throughout the community.
In response to Coun. Colleen Jones question on how the tower will enhance service? Gregg explained that users will not experience dropped or blocked calls, and with more and more people working from home, the tower will enhance WiFi and wireless high-speed internet tremendously.
Telus’ preference is to erect towers as close to the service area as possible and on municipal property so that the city can benefit.
Council passed the recommendation.