Effingham residents concerned over cell tower proposal

The intersection of Effingham and Welland. GOOGLE MAPS

Only property owners within 1,200 ft. of site notified of plan


The Biglieri Group recently held a meeting in Council Chambers at Pelham Town Hall for residents and landowners in the vicinity of a proposed cell tower slated for construction on the east side of Effingham Street, north of Welland Road. Considering that notification of the meeting was sent out to only six households in the immediate area near where the tower may be located, there were only five individuals in attendance. Ruth and Rob Gabourie — two of the five who showed up to learn more about the proposed tower — left the meeting with an uneasy feeling about the idea of a tower being built so close to their property.

“All they had to do by law was notify people with property within the distance of three times the height of the tower — so within around twelve hundred feet away from the tower,” said Rob.

“They only sent out six letters, so I don’t think most people in Pelham know what is going on.”

The proposal by the Biglieri Group Ltd., on behalf of Wind Mobil, would allow for the construction of a 48-metre tall, lattice-style telecommunications tower to be built on the land next door to the Gabouries’ property.

Although deemed safe by Health Canada under Safety Code 6, the radio frequency, or RF, emissions radiated by cell towers is listed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer as Group 2B — possibly carcinogenic. Until further research is done proving the electromagnetic energy emitted by the towers is safe to public health, the Gabouries said they will not support a cell tower being erected in their neighbourhood.

“We don’t know the implications of these towers,” said Ruth.

“Why would China and Italy have rules that are 100 times more strict than in Canada? Obviously, they know there is harmful stuff coming out of these towers. There are a lot of reasons why we are so upset about this. We felt it was our duty to bring it to everybody’s attention. It’s just not right.”

Human health is not the only reason the Gabourie’s are worried about the proposed cell tower. The disruption and potential destruction of the local environment is another major concern of theirs. Pointing out how there is already a great deal of roadkill on Effingham Street, they believe the excavation of the site and clearing of trees that is necessary to install the cell tower will displace even more wildlife in the area. Forcing wildlife out of its natural habitat into traffic also creates a public safety issue of its own, they said.

“The stream that goes through our property, we’ve never seen anything like it,” Ruth said.

“It’s just so pretty, it goes underground and then comes back out. It is Carolinian forest for sure and we have lots of wildlife out there.”

“The wetland that they will be impacting is 25 hectares,” added Rob.

“The stream on our land and the property where it might be built runs at the same height twelve months of the year. This area is unique in the Niagara Peninsula.”

Recognizing that the area is part of the Greenbelt, they reached out to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) but found they could do little to help because Industry Canada is the agency ruling over cell tower construction.

“I looked up the laws around this and it is Industry Canada who calls the shots, so the NPCA or the Town can’t do too much,” said Rob. The Town can put their objections in though. Oakville stopped a tower going in but it took a lot of time in court. I think the only way to stop it is if there is a loud public outcry.”

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