Changes to Canada's Antenna Tower Siting Policy

Industry Canada's existing antenna siting procedures apply to all companies that want to install an antenna tower. The procedures outline the process that a company must follow when installing a new radiocommunication antenna tower. This includes sharing towers where possible, consulting with the local land-use authority (generally the municipality) and the public as required, and adhering to any local antenna siting protocol that exists.

The Government of Canada's policy guiding the installation of antenna towers was established in 2008. Under the original policy, a company was only required to consult with local residents when it was planning to build a tower higher than 15 metres. There was no time limit on when the new tower needed to be built following these consultations; and, in many cases, residents felt they weren't being given adequate notice of the details of the consultation or the plan to build a tower.

To help address the concerns of citizens about the number of new towers being built in their communities, in March 2013 the Federal Government announced changes to its telecommunications policy. These changes reinforced the requirement that any company wanting to build a new tower first had to look at sharing an existing tower or using an existing structure for its antenna.

The improvements to the Antenna Tower Siting Policy that were announced today will further strengthen the requirements for the wireless industry to consult with local residents, increase transparency for municipalities and improve communications throughout the tower siting process.

Specific changes will include:

  • requiring a company to consult on all commercial tower installations, regardless of height;
  • establishing a three-year limit between the time of consultation and the time a tower is built;
  • ensuring residents are well-informed of upcoming consultations by requiring communications from the company to be clearly marked; and
  • encouraging municipalities to get involved early in the tower siting process.

Furthermore, new measures will strengthen federal communications with the public on tower siting procedures. This will include:

  • new online resources; and
  • new reporting mechanisms to track tower issues and report back to communities.

When an issue or impasse arises that is related to a new tower site, the parties can approach Industry Canada for a determination.