Residents north of Saskatoon upset about placement of SaskTel service tower
SASKATOON -- A group of residents living in Meadows Estates and Bergheim Estates just south of Aberdeen are opposed to the building of a 76.2 metre SaskTel tower nearby.
“All of us in the community here bought these homes and built on the land because of the land of the living skies that is all around us in the open countryside,” said resident Joy-Ann Allin.
“The tower is going to be right over my living room window, my dining room window, my family room window,” said Bryce Lutze. “I didn't move out into the country to look at a cell phone tower.”
“This is our retirement dream homes, and SaskTel doesn't care,” said Kyle Allin. “I know they advertise that SaskTel cares, and they truly don't care.”
Allin says she and many others have lived in the area for years and feel blindsided by the construction of the tower.
“Our neighbours were made aware of this back in August with a letter to only one home,” she said.
“We don't feel like the neighbors were consulted about the cell tower being placed so close to our homes, and we're really hoping that we can convince SaskTel to relocate the cell tower just a bit further away.”
SaskTel manager of corporate communications Greg Jacobs says the process of finding a spot to build the tower, which will fill a gap in cell service between Saskatoon and Aberdeen, began in 2018. The site is the only piece of property they were able to buy that would suit their needs, he said.
“Part of the reason why we were interested in acquiring this piece of property is because, according to the bylaws, it's appropriately zoned for a number of things, communications infrastructure being one of those, which a cell tower would fall under.”
Jacobs says construction of cell towers is heavily regulated by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, which requires residents within a distance of three times the height of the tower to be notified of the intent to build.
He said that has been done, with SaskTel sending information packages to four landowners in the area.
Jacobs says the regulations also require an ad placed in a local paper that serves the area, which he says SaskTel met when a public notice was put in the Warman Clark’s Crossing Gazette the week of Aug. 13, 2020.
The residents say they’re also concerned about potential radiation from the cell tower, as well as real estate value.
“We operate in a very regulated industry, and Health Canada, through Safety Code six, has set the guidelines for the amount of RF (radio frequency) energy that any tower, any communication structure can emit,” said Jacobs.
“We do our best to ensure that the energy that our towers are emitting are as low as possible, and in many cases they are vastly lower than or significantly lower than the thresholds that we would be allowed to emit based on health Canada's Safety Code six.”
Jacobs says SaskTel understands the tower might not be convenient to have close to the community, but it’s necessary to provide communication services to people in the area.
“We do require pieces of infrastructure that can deliver those types of services, and in the modern world those types of services, especially in the pandemic, have become very important,” he said.
Jacobs says the tower is scheduled to be in service by the spring or early summer.