Facts about towers - For citizens
Facts about towers
Towers in your community
Antenna towers come in many shapes and sizes, from small units on lampposts, to the familiar tall towers.
With more Canadians than ever using wireless devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs demanding more services and faster data, we need increasingly more towers to meet demand.
But demand for service has to be balanced with the needs of Canadians and their communities. So, it's the law for companies that want to build a tower to first look at sharing existing structures or infrastructure, such as rooftops or water towers.
Since antenna systems can handle a limited number of calls or data traffic at once, there are more towers and other antenna structures in high population areas. In suburban areas, towers are often farther apart, but in dense urban areas, they will be closer together. There are approximately 13,000 wireless antenna towers across Canada and this number is increasing to meet demand.
Industry Canada has taken steps to balance the increasing demand for wireless services with the needs of neighbourhoods and communities across Canada. We have revised our Antenna Tower Siting Procedures to ensure municipalities are involved early in the process when a new tower is proposed.
If there are no existing structures that can be shared or used, a company can begin the process of building a tower. Companies are required to:
- clearly notify and consult residents when a commercial tower of any height is planned and address their concerns;
- meet the reasonable and relevant requirements of the local land-use authority (usually the municipality);
- adhere to the Government of Canada's technical and safety requirements for towers; and
- build any new tower within three years of consulting with residents.
Wireless providers and your local municipality determine tower locations.
The Government of Canada is not involved in the specifics of tower installations, but we do set the law; it's called the Radiocommunication Act. Providing technical requirements are met, we only get involved when there is an impasse between the municipality and the company. In these rare cases, we look at the facts and provide a decision.
Expressing your views on towers in your community
If there's a plan to build a new cell phone tower in your neighbourhood, you should be consulted if you are within a certain distance of the tower.
- Understand the process that the company must follow in building the tower
- Know that the company must deal with all reasonable and relevant concerns of stakeholders and make all practical efforts to resolve them
- Remember that Industry Canada typically only gets involved if your local authorities and the company can't agree.
If you want to express your views about an existing tower in your neighbourhood, speak to your local land use authorities (usually your municipality).
Contact your local land use authority
You can find your municipality or regional district from this list.
The radiofrequency waves that travel among antenna towers are a form of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum between FM radio waves and microwaves. They are produced by a variety of sources, including natural ones like the sun and the earth.
Industry Canada requires all antenna systems to meet strict limits on the amount of energy that can be present in areas where the general public has access. To ensure the protection of the general public, Industry Canada uses the RF exposure limits that are part of Health Canada's guidelines commonly referred to as Safety Code 6.
RF waves are limited in how far they can travel. The range depends on a number of factors, including:
the consensus of the scientific community is that RF energy from cell phone towers is
too low to cause adverse health effects in humans.
Source: Health Canada, Safety Code 6
- The height of the antenna
- The signal's frequency
- The transmitter's power
- The effect of buildings or vegetation on the signal
- Other geographical or weather conditions
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