The City of Saskatoon wants residents to have more say over where cell phone towers, especially shorter ones, are put.
Currently, SaskTel has 42 towers in the city and more are planned.
On Tuesday the city unveiled a suggested new policy for cell towers. The plan will need to be approved by a full meeting of city council.
No matter how the city's policy is changed, the authority for approving a cell tower rests with a federal agency, Industry Canada.
However, one of Industry Canada's measures, when considering approval, includes whether or not an applicant has support from the local authority.
According to a report from Saskatoon officials, the city's current policy works well enough for proposed towers that are very tall — 15 metres or higher — and are a fair distance away from residential areas, 200 metres.
In those cases public consultations are required.
The city is now recommending a policy to cover towers shorter than 15 metres and suggests residents also have a say whenever those towers are proposed within 30 metres of a residential area.
The city has discovered many new structures are just under 15 metres tall and do not require any consultations.
City council member Pat Lorje noted Tuesday that Saskatoon is also encouraging telecommunication companies to put towers on existing power poles, or light standards.
"Cell phones are a basic utility now and I would like to see us retrofitting our utility poles all around the city, rather than putting up new structures," Lorje said.
In addition to a consultation process, Saskatoon's suggested policy also includes a number of guidelines on location, materials used for the tower, and measures to minimize the visual impact of the structure such as screening.
A presentation from SaskTel noted that the provincial Crown corporation was OK with the proposed new policy.
Sasktel also noted that using rooftops for towers was not currently feasible
"Rooftop deployments have had many issues resulting in long timelines to completion," according to the corporation, adding that Sasktel was moving away from that type of tower installation. "They are also not appropriate in residential areas."