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Residents voice concern over proposed Wardrope Avenue cell tower

A new TBayTel cell tower on Wardrope Avenue has Renee Thomson worried.
Renee Thomson gives a deputation to city council on Feb. 11, 2013. (Jeff Labine,

A new TBayTel cell tower on Wardrope Avenue has Renee Thomson worried.

Thomson, who lives next to the site of the proposed TbayTel cell tower near the corner of County Boulevard, voiced her concerns about the project at city council's Monday night meeting. The main message of her deputation was the possibility of serious health effects for residents living in the nearby area.

The cell tower is intended to improve service for TbayTel customers.

“I don’t want to be exposed to all this stuff,” she told council.

“The electromagnetic fields emit radiation 24-7, 365 days a year, which gives me cause for concern. We have more than our share of towers. There’s people with small children who are concerned about the hormone changes.”

Thomson said they have been asking for more information and even sent out a petition but with little success. She said that they were promised full disclosure of the project but so far, that hasn’t happened.

Thomson argued that no company has the right to mislead the public or put them in harm’s way and requested the tower be moved 225-feet away from homes. 

“No one knows for sure what the constant exposure will affect the human health in the long term and we don’t want to be sitting ducks,” she said. “To prevail on the side of safety, you need to put it further away.”

Neebing Coun. Linda Rydholm explained that the city doesn’t have a say on the towers because that responsibility falls under Industry Canada. The city’s responsibility is to say if community consultations have taken place, she said.

A report on the community consultation process of the project is expected to come before council on Feb. 25.

In other business, council also heard an update from the city’s tourism manager Paul Pepe. The update gave an overview look of last year and some of the strategies the city plans to adopt in order to increase tourism to the region.

The tourism industry brings in $127 million each year to the city.

Some of the highlights from the report included a shift from city centric approach to more emphasis on outdoor leisure activities. Pepe said they want to make Thunder Bay a premier location for outdoor activities and promote activities on Lake Superior.

“We’re really focusing on things people do when they travel,” he said. “About 75 per cent of visitors our choosing this region because of specific things that they are seeking.”

He also pointed out that the four new hotels being developed in the city will mean about 480 new rooms for visitors to rent and United Airlines will be offering daily direct flights to its hub in Chicago starting this week.

At-Large Coun. Aldo Ruberto asked if there was a way to bring more tourists from Duluth to the city since many residents travel south of the border to visit the United States.

“We spend I don’t know how many millions of dollars down in Duluth and I don’t think they are reciprocating the same amount we are,” Ruberto said.

Pepe said there’s a few challenges to attract tourism from Duluth. One of the issues is that Duluth has similar outdoor experiences to Thunder Bay.

But the city is working on new partnerships with University of Minnesota sports groups.

Pepe said they are working on events that are easy to plan to bring those groups to the city.



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