Wireless Antenna Tower Siting in Canada

The FCM/CWTA Joint Antenna System Siting Protocol Template

On February 28, 2013, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) launched a jointly-developed template to be used to establish protocols that guide the wireless antenna system siting process in Canadian municipalities.

The purpose of the protocol is to ensure there is notification and meaningful local consultation on the location and visual aesthetics of antenna systems before they are installed, and that Canadians continue to have access to the wireless services they need to support their businesses and stay connected with their families.

The Joint Antenna System Siting Protocol is the result of a partnership between municipalities and the wireless industry, through FCM and CWTA, to find common sense solutions to the challenge of building Canada’s digital infrastructure while respecting local land use preferences and community concerns.

When launched, the protocol template established a more comprehensive notification and consultation process than existing regulations, and emphasized the need for meaningful pre-consultation to ensure local land use priorities and sensitivities are fully reflected in the location and design of new antenna systems. Telecommunications carriers committed to notify municipalities of all antennas being installed before their construction, regardless of height, and to undertake full public consultation for towers under 15 meters – whenever deemed necessary by the municipality.

Joint Antenna System Siting Protocol Template

About the Protocol Template

Changes to Industry Canada’s Antenna Tower Siting Policy

On February 5, 2014, Industry Canada announced a new process a company must follow when installing a new radio communication antenna tower. The changes to Industry Canada’s regulations closely mirror the Joint Protocol Template on Antenna Siting developed in 2013 by FCM and CWTA.

Industry Canada’s 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 regulatory policy guiding the installation of antenna towers was first 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 also no time limit on when the new tower needed to be built following these consultations.

The amendments to the Antenna Tower Siting Policy that were announced in February 2014 strengthen the official requirements for the wireless industry to consult with local residents, increase transparency for municipalities and improve communications throughout the tower siting process.

Specific changes included:

  • Requiring consultation on all commercial tower installations, regardless of height;
  • Adding a three-year limit between the time of consultation and the time a tower is built;
  • Requiring communications from the company to nearby residents be clearly marked; and
  • Encouraging municipalities to get involved early in the tower siting process.

Industry Canada’s updated Antenna Tower Policy

Industry Canada’s Guide to Assist Land-use Authorities in Developing Antenna Siting Protocols

In August 2014, Industry Canada updated its antenna siting guide to reflect the recent changes to the antenna siting regulations. The guide is intended to assist Land-use Authorities (LUA) in ensuring effective local participation in decisions regarding proposals to build antennas and their supporting structures within their communities. This guide specifically addresses two areas:

Participation Process: Addresses the LUA’s role in effectively participating and influencing decisions with respect to proposed antenna systems within Industry Canada’s antenna siting procedures. Industry Canada believes that antenna siting protocols jointly developed between proponents and LUAs can supplement the Department’s antenna siting procedures, while at the same time having a higher degree of acceptance and compliance.

Local Protocol Development: Sets out elements that LUAs might wish to include when developing protocols with proponents of antenna systems.

Guide to Assist Land-use Authorities in Developing Antenna Siting Protocols

About Antenna Siting

Industry Canada is responsible for regulating radiocommunication in Canada, including authorizing the installation of radiocommunication towers and sites. This authority is derived from the Department of Industry Act, which describes the powers and duties of the department and the minister, and the Radiocommunication Act, which specifically provides the authority to approve antenna supporting structures.

Industry Canada also makes information on the antenna siting process available to citizens, municipalities and companies. For more information on the antenna siting process, visit the Facts About Towers Web site or follow the directed links below.

Towers in your community

Canadians want faster and more accessible service so they can reliably use their wireless devices to keep in touch with loved ones and stay informed. Businesses, emergency services and air navigation systems also depend on radiocommunications and wireless services 24-hours-a-day. This requires towers, located in the right places.

Health and safety

Industry Canada requires all antenna systems to meet strict limits on the amount of energy that can be present in areas where the general public has access. To ensure the protection of the general public, Industry Canada uses the RF exposure limits that are part of Health Canada’s guidelines commonly referred to as Safety Code 6.

Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 has large safety margins built in to provide a significant level of protection for the general public and people working near RF sources.

Safety Code 6

Health Canada has a guideline, known as Safety Code 6, which recommends limits for safe human exposure to RF electromagnetic energy.  The Safety Code 6 limits for human exposure to RF energy are designed to provide protection for all age groups, including children, on a continuous (24 hours a day/seven days a week) basis.  This means that if someone, including a small child, were to be exposed to RF energy from multiple sources for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, within the Safety Code 6 limits, there would be no adverse health effects.

Antenna Tower Information Resources

Industry Canada:

Health Canada: