British Columbia

Telus cell phone array leaves West End residents concerned about health impacts

A new Telus cell phone site has some residents of Vancouver's West End concerned about the potential health impacts of living so close to it.

Neighbours say antenna went up without public consultation

Telus says it installed the site with the City of Vancouver's permission after complaints of poor cell phone coverage in the West End. (CBC)

A new Telus cell phone site has some residents of Vancouver's West End concerned about the potential health impacts of living so close to it. 

Jules Grant and Melia Sorenson noticed the metallic structure on top of the seven-storey building next to their apartment complex on Barclay Street near Chilco last week.

"They are, perhaps, 25 metres from my bedroom, where my small children are," Grant said. 

"It seems like we have a pretty good indication that cellular radiation may have human health impacts, that we're advised not to hold them next to our heads when we speak on them, but to use the headsets, and we do that because of potential health impacts."

According to Telus, the $500,000 wireless cellular site was installed with the permission of the City of Vancouver, because of complaints of poor cell service in the West End.

The company says there is no reason to worry about negative health effects. 

"Our wireless sites emit a signal hundreds, if not, thousands of times less than what's deemed safe by Health Canada," said Telus spokeswoman Liz Sauve.

Still, Grant and Sorenson are upset they weren't told about the installation before it was installed, and are now considering moving out of their suite. 

"It was done with no notification, no consultation, and they shrouded it with a big tent, which they only took off last week. So we couldn't tell what they were doing," Grant said. 

"I just think we should have had a right to know what was going on," Sorenson added. 

The couple called Industry Canada, which regulates cell service about what they call a lack of public consultation.

"Industry Canada has pointed us to the exclusion section, which says that if [Telus] put them on top of an existing structure, then they are excluded from having to do that, so they have no obligation to inform the public of what they're doing," Grant said. 

Telus says it will go out and chat with those concerned neighbours about the wireless site.

With files from Dan Burritt

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