Antenna Towers in Your Community — Updated October 2011

Frequently Asked Questions
(in support of CPC-2-0-03 - Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems)

Every day, millions of Canadians connect via radiocommunication. Radiocommunication links the country by providing us with TV and radio broadcasting, cable TV, cellphone networks, two-way radios and other radiocommunication services. Radiocommunication would not work without antennas, which, to function effectively, are often supported by towers or other tall structures. The Canadian public, businesses, police, firefighters, ambulances, air navigation systems and national defence use antenna systems, including towers, to ensure reliable radiocommunication.

Role of Industry Canada

Industry Canada is responsible for regulating radiocommunication in Canada and for authorizing radiocommunication facilities. We believe that dialogue between parties is essential for the orderly introduction of radiocommunication services into a community.

Industry Canada has developed this [pamphlet] to address commonly asked questions regarding the installation of radiocommunication antenna towers and related facilities. This pamphlet provides information on:

  • the installation of new antenna-supporting structures, or the modification of existing ones
  • land-use authority and public consultation
  • aeronautical safety
  • radio frequency field emissions
  • the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How will I know if a new antenna tower is being proposed for installation in my neighbourhood, and how can I share my views?

Anyone planning to install an antenna tower must follow the procedures of local land-use authorities, which may include a requirement to notify local residents. If a land-use authority does not have any procedures in place, then Industry Canada's procedures must be followed. This can include written notification to residents and groups within a radius of three times the height of the proposed structure.

Citizens having questions or comments about proposed antenna towers can make their views known through the consultation process. More information on procedures can be found on Industry Canada's website at http://ic.gc.ca/towers.

2. Why does the antenna tower have to be in my neighbourhood?

The location of antenna towers 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. Demand for wireless services is increasing rapidly; to meet this demand, more towers are required, often closer to users.

3. Can exisiting towers, or other antenna-supporting structures, be used?

Industry Canada requires antenna tower proponents to investigate the use of existing structures. In some instances, because of technical or other constraints, sharing a structure is not always feasible.

4. Who regulates antenna towers?

Industry Canada is responsible for managing the use of the radio frequency spectrum, including antenna towers.

5. 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 1. 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 radiocommunication 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. Further, operators must respect updates made to Safety Code 6.

6. Why must the tower be painted and have lights?

Paint and lights ensure that the tower 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. Tower marking options may be available and, where concern exists, these options should be discussed with the proponent.

7. Are environmental concerns taken into consideration?
[Updated on March 31, 2011]

Yes. Industry Canada's antenna siting procedures take into consideration the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and other statutes where applicable.

8. Are licensees required to comply with zoning bylaws?
[Updated on April 1, 2008]

There are many provincial and local requirements such as municipal zoning bylaws that relate only incidentally to radiocommunication and are outside the purview of federal law. That being said, radiocommunication is a field exclusively within the legislative competence of the federal government. Therefore, matters that affect the establishment of federally authorized radio stations are clearly governed by the Radiocommunication Act and the policies thereunder.

However, Industry Canada's policy is to seek meaningful local input with respect to antenna siting. As outlined in the Department's Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-03, Industry Canada requires proponents to work with local land-use authorities and to accommodate reasonable local requirements. On occasion, local requirements may unduly impede the deployment of radiocommunication facilities or land-use authorities and proponents may not be able to reach concurrence with respect to local requirements. In those cases, proponents can petition Industry Canada for a decision in accordance with CPC-2-0-03.

9. Industry Canada’s antenna siting procedures exclude new antenna systems with a height of less than 15 metres above ground level from the requirement to consult with the local community. As well, under the Department’s default public consultation process, proponents of proposed antenna-supporting structures that will be 30 metres or more in height must place a notice in a local community newspaper. What is considered in these measurements?
[Updated October 2011]

Overall height is measured from the lowest ground level at the base of the antenna supporting structure and its foundation (including any height added by a foundation that is exposed above the ground) to the tallest point of the installation. An antenna supporting structure may be a tower or some other infrastructure such as a building, etc. Depending on the particular installation, the tallest point may be an antenna, lightning rod, aviation obstruction lighting or some other appurtenance.

Where there is no foundation, as might be the case with a timber or concrete pole, the overall height is measured from the lowest ground level at the junction of the base of the structure to the tallest point, as described above.

Regardless of the type of antenna-supporting structure, whether mast, tower, house, building, etc., the addition of a mound of soil, aggregate, etc. around the base will not be an accepted means to attempt to reduce the measurement of a structure’s height.

Where necessary, Industry Canada may request that measurements be provided to demonstrate the structure's height. This may include the proponent engaging the services of a qualified third party to demonstrate that the antenna system’s height is less than 15 metres or 30 metres above ground level, as appropriate.

Those planning to install a new antenna system with a height of less than 15 metres above ground level are reminded that individual circumstances vary with each antenna system installation and the exclusion criteria should be applied in consideration of local circumstances. Consequently, it may be prudent for the proponent to consult with the land-use authority and the public, even though the proposal meets the exclusion criteria. A proponent who is not certain if the proposed structure is excluded, or whether consultation may still be prudent, is advised to contact the land-use authority and/or Industry Canada for guidance.

10. Proponents of antenna systems to be used for special events are excluded from the requirement to consult with the local land-use authority and the public. What does Industry Canada consider a “special event” for this exclusion from community consultation?
[Added January 2011]

A special event is an event that requires the temporary use (typically not more than three months) of an antenna system to support the event’s need for radiocommunications. Activities such as sports tournaments, stadium events and other such activities may be considered special events. Certain installations do not qualify for the exclusion, for example, the launch of a new wireless service. Under Industry Canada’s antenna siting procedures, the proponent is to remove the antenna system within three months after the special event.

Antenna system proponents who are not certain if their proposals meet the special event exclusion, or whether consultation may be prudent, are advised to contact the land-use authority and/or Industry Canada for guidance. Some land-use authorities may have established, documented processes to quickly accommodate temporary antenna structures while satisfying Industry Canada’s community consultation requirements. That said, proponents must still meet all other antenna siting procedure requirements prior to installing the temporary antenna system.

11. The Exclusion List Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act refer to the footprint of the antenna, its supporting structure, or any of its supporting lines being no more than 25 m2. How is this to be interpreted?
[Added February 2011]

As defined in the Exclusion List Regulations (see below), footprint refers only to the area of land occupied at ground level and, if not associated with a building, must be less than 25 m2 in order to be considered for exclusion. Note that in all cases, the 25 m2 limit is applied to each individual footprint and this limit is not based on a total sum of the individual footprints.

In the case of a guyed tower supporting an antenna, two aspects would have to be examined: (i) the footprint of the foundation area of the tower at ground level; and, separate from the first aspect, (ii) the individual guy-wire foundation footprints, also at ground level. In order to be excluded, each individual footprint would need to be less than 25 m2.

In the case of a self-supporting monopole used to support an antenna, there are no guy-wires, so only the foundation area of the monopole at ground level is considered and its footprint would need to be less than 25 m2 in order to be excluded. Further, in order for a multi-leg self-supporting tower to be considered for exclusion, each tower leg foundation area at ground level must not exceed 25 m2. If, however, only one foundation was used instead of one for each leg, then, in order to be considered for exclusion, the total area at ground level of that foundation would have to be less than 25 m2.

Current Exclusion List Regulations
(http://justice.gc.ca/eng/SOR-2007-108/index.html)

“footprint” means the area of land occupied by a building or other structure at ground level. (superficie)

  • 20. (1) The proposed construction, installation, operation, expansion or modification of a radiocommunication antenna and its supporting structure
    • (a) if
      • (i) the antenna and supporting structure are either affixed to a building or located entirely within 15 m of a building, or
      • (ii) the antenna, its supporting structure, or any of its supporting lines has a footprint of no more than 25 m2;
    • (b) if the project is not to be carried out within 30 m of a water body; and
    • (c) if the project does not involve the likely release of a polluting substance into a water body.
  • (2) The proposed construction, installation, operation, expansion or modification of a radiocommunication antenna and its supporting structure within 30 m of a water body if
    • (a) the antenna and its supporting structure are affixed to a building;
    • (b) the project results in an antenna with a height no more than the greater of 5 m and a height equal to 25% of the height of the building to which it is affixed; and
    • (c) the project does not involve the likely release of a polluting substance into a water body.
  • (3) The proposed construction, installation, operation, expansion or modification of a radiocommunication antenna and its supporting structure that are affixed to a physical work other than a building if the project
    • (a) results in an antenna with a height no more than the greater of 5 m and a height equal to 25% of the height of the physical work to which it is affixed; and
    • (b) does not involve the likely release of a polluting substance into a water body.

12. How can I find more information?

The process for all antenna systems in Canada is outlined in Industry Canada's Client Procedures Circular (CPC) 2-0-03 entitled Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems.

More information is available on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at http://ic.gc.ca/towers, including CPC-2-0-03.

Industry Canada has local representation throughout Canada. To find the office nearest you, please consult Radiocommunication Information Circular (RIC) 66 entitled Addresses and Telephone Numbers of Regional and District Offices, which can also be found at the above website.


Footnotes

1 Safety Code 6 is available from Health Canada on its Web site at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

Date modified: