CPC-2-0-03 — Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems


The February 5, 2014, announcement will bring changes to Industry Canada's Antenna Tower Siting Policy.

This document will be changing in the near future as a result of Minister Moore's February 5, 2014, announcement and on March 1, 2014, Industry Canada published a notice to undertake a public consultation. Check back regularly for updates.

Issue 4, Released: June 2007, Effective: January 1, 2008
Client Procedures Circular

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Comments and suggestions may be directed to the following address: 

Industry Canada
Spectrum Management and Operations Branch
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H5

Attention: DOSP

Via email: spectrum_pubs@ic.gc.ca

All Spectrum Management and Telecommunications publications are available on the following website at: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/home.


1. Introduction

Radiocommunication and broadcasting services are important for all Canadians and are used daily by the public, safety and security organizations, government, wireless service providers, broadcasters, utilities and businesses. In order for radiocommunication and broadcasting services to work, antenna systems including masts, towers, and other supporting structures are required. There is a certain measure of flexibility in the placement of antenna systems which is constrained to some degree by: the need to achieve acceptable coverage for the service area; the availability of sites; technical limitations; and safety. In exercising its mandate, Industry Canada believes that it is important that antenna systems be deployed in a manner that considers the local surroundings.

1.1 Mandate

Section 5 of the Radiocommunication Act states that the Minister may, taking into account all matters the Minister considers relevant for ensuring the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication in Canada, issue radio authorizations and approve each site on which radio apparatus, including antenna systems, may be located. Further, the Minister may approve the erection of all masts, towers and other antenna-supporting structures. Accordingly, proponents must follow the process outlined in this document when installing or modifying an antenna system. Also, the installation of an antenna system or the operation of a currently existing antenna system that is not in accordance with this process may result in its alteration or removal and other sanctions against the operator in accordance with the Radiocommunication Act.

1.2 Application

The requirements of this document apply to anyone (referred to in this document as the proponent) who is planning to install or modify an antenna system regardless of the type of installation or service. This includes, amongst others, Personal Communications Services (PCS) and cellular, fixed wireless, broadcasting, land-mobile, licence-exempt and amateur radio operators. As well, parts of this process contain obligations that apply to existing antenna system operators.

1.3 Process Overview

This document outlines the process that must be followed by proponents seeking to install or modify antenna systems. The broad elements of the process are as follows: 

  1. Investigating sharing or using existing infrastructure before proposing new antenna-supporting structures.
  2. Contacting the land-use authority (LUA) to determine local requirements regarding antenna systems.
  3. Undertaking public notification and addressing relevant concerns, whether by following local LUA requirements or Industry Canada's default process, as is required and appropriate.
  4. Satisfying Industry Canada's general and technical requirements.

It is Industry Canada's expectation that steps (2) to (4) will normally be completed within 120 days. Some proposals may be excluded from certain elements of the process (see Section 6). It is Industry Canada's expectation that all parties will carry out their roles and responsibilities in good faith and in a manner that respects the spirit of this document.

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2. Industry Canada Engagement

There are a number of points in the processes outlined in this document where parties must contact Industry Canada to proceed. Further, anyone with any question regarding the process may contact the local Industry Canada officeFootnote 1 for guidance. Based on a query by an interested party, Industry Canada may request parties to provide relevant records and/or may provide direction to one or more parties to undertake certain actions to help move the process forward.

3. Use of Existing Infrastructure (Sharing)

This section outlines the roles of proponents and owners/operators of existing antenna systems. In all cases, parties should retain records (such as analyses, correspondence and engineering reports) relating to this section.

Before building a new antenna-supporting structure, Industry Canada requires that proponents first explore the following options: 

  • consider sharing an existing antenna system, modifying or replacing a structure if necessary;
  • locate, analyze and attempt to use any feasible existing infrastructure such as rooftops, water towers etc.

Proponents are not normally expected to build new antenna-supporting structures where it is feasible to locate their antenna on an existing structure, unless a new structure is preferred by land-use authorities.

Owners and operators of existing antenna systems are to respond to a request to share in a timely fashion and to negotiate in good faith to facilitate sharing where feasible. It is anticipated that 30 days is reasonable time for existing antenna system owners/operators to reply to a request by a proponent in writing with either: 

  • a proposed set of reasonable terms to govern the sharing of the antenna system; or
  • a detailed explanation of why sharing is not possible.
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4. Land-use Authority and Public Consultation

Contacting the Land-use Authority

Proponents must always contact the applicable land-use authorities to determine the local consultation requirements unless their proposal falls within the exclusion criteria outlined in Section 6. If the land-use authority has designated an official to deal with antenna systems, then proponents are to engage the authority through that person. If not, proponents must submit their plans directly to the council, elected local official or executive. Proponents are expected to establish initial formal contact with the land-use authority in writing in order to mark the official commencement of the 120-day consultation process.

Proponents should note that there may be more than one land-use authority with an interest in the proposal. Where no established agreement exists between such land-use authorities, proponents must, as a minimum, contact the land-use authority(ies) and/or neighbouring land-use authorities located within a radius of three times the tower height, measured from the tower base or the outside perimeter of the supporting structure, whichever is greater. As well, in cases where proponents are aware that a potential Aboriginal or treaty right or land claim may be affected by the proposed installation, they must contact Industry Canada in order to ensure that the requirements for consultation are met.

Following the Land-use Authority Process

Proponents must follow the land-use consultation process for the siting of antenna systems, established by the land-use authority, where one exists. In the event that a land-use authority's existing process has no public consultation requirement, proponents must then fulfill the public consultation requirements contained in Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process (see Section 4.2). Proponents are not required to follow this requirement if the LUA's established process explicitly excludes their type of proposal from consultation or it is excluded by Industry Canada's criteria. Where proponents believe the local consultation requirements are unreasonable, they may contact the local Industry Canada office in writing for guidance.

Broadcasting Undertakings

Applicants for broadcasting undertakings are subject to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) licensing processes in addition to Industry Canada requirements. Although Industry Canada encourages applicants to consult as early as practical in the application process, in some cases it may not be prudent for the applicants to initiate public and municipal/land-use consultation before receiving CRTC approval, as application denial by the CRTC would result in unnecessary work for all parties involved. Therefore, assuming that the proposal is not otherwise excluded, broadcasting applicants may opt to commence land-use consultation after having received CRTC approval. However, broadcasting applicants choosing this option are required, at the time of the CRTC application, to notify the land-use authority with a Letter of Intent outlining a commitment to conduct consultation after receiving CRTC approval. If the land-use authority raises concerns with the proposal as described in the Letter of Intent, applicants are encouraged to engage in discussions with the land-use authority regarding their concerns and attempt to resolve any issues. See Broadcasting Procedures and Rules, Part 1 (BPR-1), for further details.

4.1 Land-use Authority Consultation

Industry Canada believes that any concerns or suggestions expressed by land-use authorities are important elements to be considered by proponents regarding proposals to install, or make changes to, antenna systems. As part of their community planning processes, land-use authorities should facilitate the implementation of local radiocommunication services by establishing consultation processes for the siting of antenna systems.

Unless the proposal meets the exclusion criteria outlined in Section 6, proponents must consult with the local land-use authority(ies) on any proposed antenna system prior to any construction with the aim of: 

  • discussing site options;
  • ensuring that local processes related to antenna systems are respected;
  • addressing reasonable and relevant concerns (see Section 4.2) from both the land-use authority and the community they represent; and
  • obtaining land-use authority concurrence in writing.

Land-use authorities are encouraged to establish reasonable, relevant, and predictable consultation processesFootnote 2 specific to antenna systems that consider such things as:

  • the designation of suitable contacts or responsible officials;
  • proposal submission requirements;
  • public consultation;
  • documentation of the concurrence process; and
  • the establishment of milestones to ensure consultation process completion within 120 days.

Where they have specific concerns regarding a proposed antenna system, land-use authorities are expected to discuss reasonable alternatives and/or mitigation measures with proponents.

Under their processes, land-use authorities may exclude from consultation any antenna system installation in addition to those identified by Industry Canada's own consultation exclusion criteria (Section 6). For example, an authority may wish to exclude from public consultation those installations located within industrial areas removed from residential areas, low visual impact installations, or certain types of structures located within residential areas.

4.2 Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process

Proponents must follow Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process where the local land-use authority does not have an established and documented public consultation process applicable to antenna siting. Proponents are not required to follow Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process if the land-use authority's established process explicitly excludes their type of proposal from public consultation or it is excluded by Industry Canada's criteria (see Section 6). Industry Canada's default process has three steps whereby the proponent: 

  1. provides written notification to the public, the land-use authority and Industry Canada of the proposed antenna system installation or modification (i.e. public notification);
  2. engages the public and the land-use authority in order to address relevant questions, comments and concerns regarding the proposal (i.e. responding to the public); and
  3. provides an opportunity to the public and the land-use authority to formally respond in writing to the proponent regarding measures taken to address reasonable and relevant concerns (i.e. public reply comment).

Public Notification

  1. Proponents must ensure that the local public, the land-use authority and Industry Canada are notified of the proposed antenna system. As a minimum, proponents must provide a notification package (see Appendix 2) to the local public (including nearby residences, community gathering areas, public institutions, schools, etc.), neighbouring land-use authorities, businesses, and property owners, etc. located within a radius of three times the tower height, measured from the tower base or the outside perimeter of the supporting structure, whichever is greater. For the purpose of this requirement, the outside perimeter begins at the furthest point of the supporting mechanism, be it the outermost guy line, building edge, face of the self-supporting tower, etc.
  2. It is the proponent's responsibility to ensure that the notification provides at least 30 days for written public comment.
  3. In addition to the minimum notification distance noted above, in areas of seasonal residence, the proponent, in consultation with the land-use authority, is responsible for determining the best manner to notify such residents to ensure their engagement.
  4. In addition to the public notification requirements noted above, proponents of antenna-supporting structures that are proposed to be 30 metres or more in height must place a notice in a local community newspaper circulating in the proposed area.Footnote 3

Responding to the Public

Proponents are to address all reasonable and relevant concerns, make all reasonable efforts to resolve them in a mutually acceptable manner and must keep a record of all associated communications. If the local public or land-use authority raises a question, comment or concern relating to the antenna system as a result of the public notification process, then the proponent is required to: 

  1. respond to the party in writing within 14 days acknowledging receipt of the question, comment or concern and keep a record of the communication;
  2. address in writing all reasonable and relevant concerns within 60 days of receipt or explain why the question, comment or concern is not, in the view of the proponent, reasonable or relevant; and
  3. in the written communication referred to in the preceding point, clearly indicate that the party has 21 days from the date of the correspondence to reply to the proponent's response. The proponent must provide a copy of all public reply comments to the local Industry Canada office.

Responding to reasonable and relevant concerns may include contacting a party by telephone, engaging in a community meeting or having an informal, personal discussion. Between steps 1 and 2 above, the proponent is expected to engage the public in a manner it deems most appropriate. Therefore, the letter at step 2 above may be a record of how the proponent and the other party addressed the concern at hand.

Public Reply Comments

As indicated in step 3 above, the proponent must clearly indicate that the party has 21 days from the date of the correspondence to reply to the response. The proponent must also keep a record of all correspondence/discussions that occurred within the 21-day public reply comment period. This includes records of any agreements that may have been reached and/or any concerns that remain outstanding.

The factors that will determine whether a concern is reasonable or relevant according to this process will vary but will generally be considered if they relate to the requirements of this document and to the particular amenities or important characteristics of the area surrounding the proposed antenna system. Examples of concerns that proponents are to address may include: 

  • Why is the use of an existing antenna system or structure not possible?
  • Why is an alternate site not possible?
  • What is the proponent doing to ensure that the antenna system is not accessible to the general public?
  • How is the proponent trying to integrate the antenna into the local surroundings?
  • What options are available to satisfy aeronautical obstruction marking requirements at this site?
  • What are the steps the proponent took to ensure compliance with the general requirements of this document including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), Safety Code 6, etc.?

Concerns that are not relevant include: 

  • disputes with members of the public relating to the proponent's service, but unrelated to antenna installations;
  • potential effects that a proposed antenna system will have on property values or municipal taxes;
  • questions whether the Radiocommunication Act, this document, Safety Code 6, locally established by-laws, other legislation, procedures or processes are valid or should be reformed in some manner.

4.3 Concluding Consultation

The proponent may only commence installation/modification of an antenna system after the consultation process has been completed by the land-use authority, or Industry Canada confirms concurrence with the consultation portion of this process, and after all other requirements under this process have been met. Consultation responsibilities will normally be considered complete when the proponent has: 

  1. concluded consultation requirements (Section 4.1) with the land-use authority;
  2. carried out public consultation either through the process established by the land-use authority or the Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process where required; and
  3. addressed all reasonable and relevant concerns.

Concluding Land-use Authority Consultation

Industry Canada expects that land-use consultation will be completed within 120 days from the proponent's initial formal contact with the local land-use authority. Where unavoidable delays may be encountered, the land-use authority is expected to indicate when the proponent can expect a response to the proposal. If the authority is not responsive, the proponent may contact Industry Canada. Depending on individual circumstances, Industry Canada may support additional time or consider the land-use authority consultation process concluded.

Depending on the land-use authority's own process, conclusion of local consultation may include such steps as obtaining final concurrence for the proposal via the relevant committee, a letter or report acknowledging that the relevant municipal process or other requirements have been satisfied, or other valid indication, such as the minutes of a town council meeting indicating LUA approval. Compliance with informal city staff procedures, or grants of approval strictly related to zoning, construction, etc. will not normally be sufficient.

Industry Canada recognizes that approvals for construction (e.g. building permits) are used by some land‑use authorities as evidence of consultation being concluded. Proponents should note that Industry Canada does not consider the fact a permit was issued as confirmation of concurrence, as different land-use authorities have different approaches. As such, Industry Canada will only consider such approvals as valid when the proponent can demonstrate that the LUA's process was followed and that the LUA's preferred method of concluding LUA consultation is through such an approval.

Concluding Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process

Industry Canada's Default Public Consultation Process will be considered concluded when the proponent has either: 

  • received no written questions, comments or concerns to the formal notification within the 30-day public comment period; or
  • if written questions, comments or concerns were received, the proponent has addressed and resolved all reasonable and relevant concerns and the public has not provided further comment within the 21-day reply comment period.

In the case where the public responds within the 21-day reply comment period, the proponent has the option of making further attempts to address the concern on its own, or can request Industry Canada engagement. If a request for engagement is made at this stage, Industry Canada will review the relevant material, request any further information it deems pertinent from any party and may then decide that: 

  • the proponent has met the consultation requirements of this process and that Industry Canada concurs that installation or modification may proceed; or
  • the parties should participate in further attempts to mitigate or resolve any outstanding concern.
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5. Dispute Resolution Process

The dispute resolution process is a formal process intended to bring about the timely resolution where the parties have reached an impasse.

Upon receipt of a written request, from a stakeholder other than the general public, asking for Departmental intervention concerning a reasonable and relevant concern, the Department may request that all involved parties provide and share all relevant information. The Department may also gather or obtain other relevant information and request that parties provide any further submissions if applicable. The Department will, based on the information provided, either: 

  • make a final decision on the issue(s) in question, and advise the parties of its decision; or
  • suggest the parties enter into an alternate dispute resolution process in order to come to a final decision. Should the parties be unable to reach a mutually agreeable solution, either party may request that the Department make a final decision.

Upon resolution of the issue under dispute, the proponent is to continue with the process contained within this document as required.

6. Exclusions

For the following types of installations, proponents are excluded from the requirement to consult with the LUA and the public, but must still fulfill the General Requirements outlined in Section 7: 

  • maintenance of existing radio apparatus including the antenna system, transmission line, mast, tower or other antenna-supporting structure;
  • addition or modification of an antenna system (including improving the structural integrity of its integral mast to facilitate sharing), the transmission line, antenna-supporting structure or other radio apparatus to existing infrastructure, a building, water tower, etc. provided the addition or modification does not result in an overall height increase above the existing structure of 25% of the original structure's height;
  • maintenance of an antenna system's painting or lighting in order to comply with Transport Canada's requirements;
  • installation, for a limited duration (typically not more than 3 months), of an antenna system that is used for a special event, or one that is used to support local, provincial, territorial or national emergency operations during the emergency, and is removed within 3 months after the emergency or special event; and
  • new antenna systems, including masts, towers or other antenna-supporting structure, with a height of less than 15 metres above ground level.

Individual circumstances vary with each antenna system installation and modification, and the exclusion criteria above should be applied in consideration of local circumstances. Consequently, it may be prudent for the proponents to consult the LUA and the public even though the proposal meets an exclusion noted above. Therefore, when applying the criteria for exclusion, proponents should consider such things as: 

  • the antenna system's physical dimensions, including the antenna, mast, and tower, compared to the local surroundings;
  • the location of the proposed antenna system on the property and its proximity to neighbouring residents;
  • the likelihood of an area being a community-sensitive location; and
  • Transport Canada marking and lighting requirements for the proposed structure.

Proponents who are not certain if their proposed structure is excluded, or whether consultation may still be prudent, are advised to contact the land-use authority and/or Industry Canada for guidance.