Telecommunications Facilities in HRM
Telecommunication towers are an integral part of the radiocommunication and telecommunications network within Canada and are the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government. While the final decision of approval lies for these towers with the Federal Government, the Federal governing body (Industry Canada) still requires that the proponents of telecom towers consult with the relevant Land Use Authority (Municipality) prior to a decision being made. Policy SU-26 of the Halifax Regional Municipal Planning Strategy requires HRM to develop a strategy to deal with this type of infrastructure. On April 28, 2015 Halifax Regional Council directed staff to consult with industry stakeholders in the development of a new telecommunication tower application protocol.
Applying for a Telecommunications Facility in HRM
The Municipality is not the approving authority for telecom towers. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the area of radiocommunication and telecommunications. Municipal and Provincial legislation, including zoning by-laws, do not and cannot regulate the location of telecom towers. As such, Municipal processes serve the purpose of collecting feedback from the community, and providing a recommendation to the Federal regulating body of Industry Canada.
On March 22, 2016, Halifax Regional Council approved 2015-005-GOV, the Siting of a Telecommunication Antenna Administrative Order. In this process, telecommunication tower applications are no longer considered by Community Council, and instead are assessed against Council guidelines as well as considering feedback as provided by the public. The steps involved in this process are as follows:
- Pre-Consultation with staff:
- Information is submitted to HRM providing details regarding tower location, height, context, and why the tower is required
- Staff provide response indicating if a site is within a location that is “preferred” or not
- If Preferred Location Criteria is Met:
- The focus of the process is to direct applicants to low impact locations where it is felt telecommunications towers would not have a significant impact on adjacent lands, uses, or residents
- When the Preferred Location Criteria is met, no further consultation would be required, and the applicant could proceed directly to submission of a full application package of a proposal which complied with siting and design guidelines of the protocol
- If Preferred Location Criteria is Not Met:
- Applicants are notified they do not meet the preferred location criteria, and are then responsible for fulfilling the requirements of a consultation program outlined in the Administrative Order. This program includes mail notification to nearby land owners, signage on the site, newspaper advertisements, creation of a website, and the holding of a public information session
- Consultation is wholly the responsibility of the applicant and must adhere to all specific standards referenced in the Administrative Order
- Full Application Submission:
- Following public consultation, it would be expected that amendments to the proposal would be made to address concerns expressed by residents through consultation or by staff at the pre-consultation stage.
- Following amendments, or if no consultation was required, the applicant then submits a full application to municipal staff for review. The contents of this submission includes:
- A summary of consultation completed;
- A copy of all notification materials provided to the public;
- Written comments received from the public;
- A written submission responding to all reasonable and relevant concerns identified by the public, or by staff at the pre-consultation stage of application; and
- A resubmission of updated materials initially required at the pre-consultation stage.
- Review of the Submission:
- Staff reviews the full application submission and responds in writing
- Responses indicate one of three possibilities
- That concurrence (agreement) has been reached,
- That concerns held by the community or staff still remain and this information will be provided to Industry Canada
- That the submission materials are incomplete and do not comply with the Administrative Order.
- Letters of concurrence expire three years from its date of issue at which time the process would need to be re-started in order to receive a further letter of concurrence
For more information, please contact:
HRM Planning Applications
40 Alderney Drive, 2nd Floor
Telephone: (902) 490-4472
Fax: (902) 490-3976