"Telecommunication facilities" refers to all antennae and antenna systems including masts, towers, and other supporting structures required for radio communication and broadcasting services.
Who regulates and approves telecommunications facilities?
Industry Canada, Spectrum Management & Telecommunications (Government of Canada), is the licensing body and regulates these facilities under the provisions of the Federal Telecommunications Act (S.C. 1993, c.38). Communication companies must apply to Industry Canada for a licence to operate an installation at each specific location.
What role does HRM play in the location of telecommunications facilities?
The federal government has recognized that municipal authorities may have an interest in the location of telecommunication facilities, and every municipality is given an opportunity to review the proposed facility and provide comment. These comments will be considered by Industry Canada, who will then determine whether or not a license is to be granted and will stipulate any conditions.
In HRM, where:
- the proposed installation of telecommunications equipment is not contemplated by the land use zone applied to the property, or
- where the proposal is not considered to be excluded by Industry Canada's Client Procedures
Proponents are required to submit a Telecommunications Application to HRM Planning Services. Each proposal is reviewed for information regarding the type, size, and location of the installation. In the case of towers, co-location (or co-utilization) information is also reviewed. Co-location means the use of a communications tower, either existing or proposed, by two or more carriers.
Through the telecommunications application process, the municipality will facilitate a public consultation component, review the proposal and provide comment on the proposal to Industry Canada.
What Municipal policies address proposed telecommunication installations?
On March 22, 2016, Halifax Regional Council approved 2015-005-GOV, the Siting of a Telecommunication Antenna Administrative Order. In this process, telecommunication tower applications are no longer considered by Community Council, and instead are assessed against Council guidelines as well as considering feedback as provided by the public.
Do other Canadian Municipalities have specific policies to address proposed communications installations?
Certain municipalities in Canada have adopted specific policy and protocols related to the installation of telecommunications equipment. Examples include:
• Toronto, Ontario
• Calgary, Alberta
• The City of Winnipeg
Are licensees required to comply with zoning by-laws?
No. Radio communication is a field exclusively legislated by the federal government. Matters that affect federally authorized radio stations are clearly governed by the Radio communication Act.
Provincial and local requirements, such as municipal zoning by-laws, relate only incidentally to radio communication and are outside the purview of federal law. However, Industry Canada requires applicants to work with local land-use authorities and to accommodate reasonable local requirements as outlined in Client Procedures Circular. Circumstances where local requirements are deemed to be too stringent or an agreement cannot be reached with local authorities, the applicant can petition Industry Canada for a decision in accordance with CPC-2-0-03.
Does a telecommunications facility installation need a Development Permit?
Yes. In HRM, a Development Permit is required prior to the installation of a telecommunications facility.
How will I know if a new telecommunications facility is being proposed for installation in my neighbourhood, and how can I share my views?
Depending upon the location where a Telecommunications Application is proposed, public consultation may be required. Citizens who have questions or comments about proposed telecommunications facilities can make their opinion known through the consultation process. More information on the ways in which planning staff determine if public consultation is needed for a tower is described in the staff report.
Why does the telecommunications facility have to be in my neighbourhood?
The location of telecommunications facilities 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. As demand for wireless services increases, more towers are required, and they are often closer to users.
Can existing telecommunication facilities, or other antenna-supporting structures, be used?
Industry Canada requires proponents to use existing structures wherever possible and practical. In some instances, because of technical or other constraints, sharing a structure is not always feasible.
Can I appeal the proposed installation of the telecommunications facility?
No. As telecommunication facilities are Federally regulated and licensed, there is no appeal procedure.
Does a proposed telecommunications facility require an amendment to the Land-Use By-law?
No. Telecommunications installations are Federally regulated and licensed; therefore, a land use by-law amendment is not required to allow the location of a communication installation on any site within the municipality.
Does a proposed telecommunications facility site require posting of a Public Notice?
Not always. However, where a proponent is required to undertake the Telecommunications Application process described in Council's approved Administrative Order, the applicant is required to place a Public Notice sign on the subject property.
What is required for the public notification process?
Industry Canada has outlined the required public notification process related to the siting of antenna systems in their Client Procedures Circular (CPC-2-0-03 Volume 4). In cases where the municipality requires a proponent to submit a Telecommunications Application, the applicant will facilitate the public notification.
Where public consultation is required as per the Council approved Administrative Order, the applicant for the tower is responsible for fulfilling the requirements of a consultation program outlined in the Administrative Order. This program includes mail notification to nearby land owners, signage on the site, newspaper advertisements, creation of a website, and the holding of a public information session. Consultation is wholly the responsibility of the applicant and must adhere to all specific standards referenced in the Administrative Order.
Why are some telecommunication facilities (i.e. towers) painted and fitted with lights?
Paint and lights ensure the telecommunications facility 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.
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 radio communication 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. Operators must also respect updates made to Safety Code 6.
Are environmental concerns taken into consideration?
Yes. Installation and modification of antenna systems must comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The municipality has adopted provisions related to development in proximity to environmental features such as wetlands and watercourses. A telecommunications proposal must demonstrate compliance with these provisions, where applicable.
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," 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.
Are there any requirements or standards governing the amount of exposure to radio frequency radiation or electro-magnetic fields from communication towers?
Health and safety issues are regulated by Health Canada. Specific information about Health Canada's Safety Code 6 can be found on the Health Canada website or by writing to:
Consumer & Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau
775 Brookfield Road, PL6302C
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1C1
How does Industry Canada ensure that radio communication 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 radio communication 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.
Who can I contact at the municipality if I have more questions about telecommunication facilities?
Halifax Regional Municipality Planning Applications
PO Box 1749