For Immediate Release
The impossible has happened. After about seven months of fierce opposition by residents of both Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, by the PAC of Coquitlam River Elementary, and by the school board 43 itself, Rogers formally withdrew their application.
It was announced during a regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 24th. A letter from Rogers was read by the mayor Greg Moore. When he finished reading, at first, there was silence as people were shocked with disbelief. And then the room, attended by about 70 people, erupted into a raucous applause and cheers that lasted quite a while. The audience was quite simply stunned.
"We certainly did not expect this. We were hoping for this, but we did not expect it. The city staff and most of the council certainly gave every indication they were in favour of the tower and saw little problem with it. As late as this morning most of us thought we have lost this battle" exclaimed Peter Endisch, one of the organizers of the opposition and director with Citizens for Safe Technology.
The tower was originally proposed for the Terry Fox Cemetery. That proposal was withdrawn because residents felt it would desecrate the memory of Terry Fox, who died of cancer and many peer reviewed research papers indicate the possibility of several cancers from low level, non-ionizing radiation, such as microwaves emitted by cell towers. The irony was that a year later, Rogers came back with a new proposal, this time in a park, despite Port Coquitlam's clear bylaws citing prohibition of such installations in parks. This time, the tower would affect less the dead but more so the living, and especially the young ones, since the tower would be situated 120m from Coquitlam River Elementary and around 500m from Irving Elementary schools. Many felt that the city gave unprecedented access to Rogers and that the staff and most of the council were very dismissive of health issues and even their own bylaws. In fact, Poco council and staff went out of their way to try to convince the public that their own bylaws didn't apply for the city owned park. Not so, said Industry Canada whom the opposition contacted and forwarded the correspondence to the city. Yet the city remained unconvinced.
Citizens were undeterred and decided to fight back. They gathered close to 500 signatures for their petition opposing the tower and canvassed both Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam near where the tower would be situated. They wrote letters, phoned the council, talked to neighbours, organized parties and information sessions for the public. Port Coquitlam council then agreed to hold a public meeting, although they were not required to do so. That was certainly a step in the right direction. On May 9th, the council chambers were packed with people voicing their concerns over the situation of the tower. Then on May 19th, citizens organized a rally in front of the city hall. The rally was attended by children, parents, grand parents and other concerned citizens.
Council also announced they will start work on a new telecommunication policy that will guide them in the future on where the city would allow cell towers be situated. The mayor thanked the community for expressing their concerns and urged them to work with the city in crafting the new policy.
"We are certainly pleased that the council has decided to work on a new policy. It is a chance to do things right, like the city of Delta did last week, banning cell towers on all public properties and near residences. We will certainly be watching vigilantly and be involved in the process." said Peter Endisch. "However tonight is time to celebrate. We congratulate Rogers for listening to the community concerns and withdrawing their application".
There has been a series of cell tower proposals defeated by activists and local residents around lower mainland and on Vancouver island just in past few months. Also across Canada, notably in Ontario and in Montreal. This is certainly not the last tower to see residents band together to fight against. The Greenmount Park cell tower proposal opposition has been citizen driven with support from the Tricity Green Council and Citizens For Safe Technology, as well as other organizations from lower mainland.
For media, please contact
Peter Endisch, director,
Citizens For Safe Technology