Churches across Canada are erecting massive cellphone towers on their properties as cash-strapped congregations help feed the country's insatiable desire for cellular coverage, CBC's John Lancaster reports.

Dartmouth, N.S., Port Sandfield, Ont., Mississauga, Ont., and Calgary are among the communities that have seen the huge towers erected on church property — sometimes disguised as crosses.

At Deer Park United Church in Calgary, Rev. Tom Melvin says the tower there brings in thousands of dollars.

The "lease is $20,000 a year, five-year contract that's renewable, with a 20 per cent escalator every time it's renewed," he says. 

Church cell towers have sparked debate in some communities over perceived health concerns or the devaluing of nearby properties.

In Mississauga, Ont., a gleaming white tower disguised as a cross soars 30 metres into the air, dwarfing the tiny church below.

Mississauga Coun. Pat Mullin says she's seen enough.

"My problem is how many more are going to be parachuted in? This is a residential community, you can see what an eyesore that is. These are huge."

Bernard Lord, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, says it's a case of supply and demand.

"Canadians consume more data, voice and text than virtually any other place in the world," says Lord, a former premier of New Brunswick. "We want that to continue. We want Canada to be at the leading edge of the mobile digital economy, not laggers."

To see Lancaster's full report, click the above video.