SaskTel has notified City Administration of major system upgrades to their cellular network that are planned for 2022. This includes a range of upgrades to existing towers in many locations throughout Saskatoon. As these planned upgrades will be noticeable across the city, Administration is providing this webpage related to the current notification and consultation process in place for telecommunication infrastructure.
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Radiocommunication infrastructure, including cell towers, are regulated and authorized by Industry Canada as antenna systems and antenna-supporting structures. These federal regulations require the proponent to consult with municipalities and the public, as part of their process.
While the City of Saskatoon cannot prevent a proponent from obtaining permission for their installation from Industry Canada, Council Policy C09-037, Antenna Systems Policy, provides a set of requirements consistent with those of Industry Canada and provides guidance for the orderly development of these structures. Of note, it includes specific requirements for public consultation to provide an opportunity for the public to be informed and comment on proposed installations. The Policy also outlines the technical review process undertaken by Administration and provides a set of criteria by which the Administration evaluates the installations to provide a letter of concurrence or non-concurrence to Industry Canada for their consideration.
In February 2014, Industry Canada announced changes to their Antenna Tower Siting Policy that require telecommunication companies to work closely with local communities when proposing new communication towers. These changes require consultation for commercial antenna structures, no matter what the height of the tower, or distance to residential areas. In 2016, an amendment to the Zoning Bylaw was approved to ensure consistency between the Zoning Bylaw and Antenna Systems Policy No. C09-037, as well as federal regulations.
Section 5.27 of the Zoning Bylaw outlines that commercial communication towers erected in any zoning district shall be subject to public consultation processes as required by the Antenna Systems Policy. Appropriate setback guidelines are also provided for communication towers consistent with the zoning district in which they are located.
The Antenna Systems Policy provides requirements for the public consultation process including, evaluation criteria for the City of Saskatoon to use for these submissions. The proponent of any antenna-supporting infrastructure is required to undertake public consultation. As per the Policy, the proponents lead the public consultation process and not the City of Saskatoon. Exceptions to this requirement include amateur radio antennas and commercial antennas used for temporary events.
Public consultation requirements include:
- Sending a notification package to property owners located within 200 metres of the proposed installation, as well as to the Community Association President, the Ward Councillor, the Community Services Division, and Industry Canada;
- Provide a 30-day period for comments to be submitted; and timeframes for the proponent to respond and address public inquiries and concerns
- For antenna-supporting structures 30 metres or more in height, a notice must also be placed in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix; and
- Where a substantive public concern is created by the proposal, a public information meeting may be required consistent with the overall objectives of the City of Saskatoon’s engagement process.
Administration does not conduct this consultation process but provides supporting information to the proponent, which includes:
- Mailing addresses for property owners for the notification
- Suggestions and guidance related to appropriate meeting locations
- Guidance related to the requirements of the Policy
Following the consultation process, Administration receives and reviews the documentation provided by the proponent to determine if they have met the Policy requirements. In cases where the proponent has completed the notification and/or public information meeting as required by the Policy, and other criteria are met, Administration provides a letter of concurrence for the application. Where a proponent has met the requirements, but the proposal remains contentious, Administration provides a letter of non-concurrence to Industry Canada for their consideration.
Questions and comments on the planned upgrades can be directed to:
SaskTel - Corporate Services Dept - Real Estate Services
10th Floor, 2121 Saskatchewan Drive
Questions and comments on federal regulations and processes can be directed to:
Michael Wawryk, Spectrum Operations Manager
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada