VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Two broadcasting companies and a property owner claim the small Vancouver Island city of Colwood enacted a law that unconstitutionally restricts electronic broadcasting. It’s the latest in a series of fights over whether electromagnetic radiation, such as power lines or broadcasting towers, can endanger public health.
The city passed the Nuisance (Electronic Signals) Bylaw in February 2010 after setting up a task force to “address concerns over the alleged potential impacts of electromagnetic radiation from sources including the Triangle Mountain Broadcasting Towers.”
The complaint cites a Colwood City Council document stating that the purpose of its task force “is to identify current and proposed sources of electromagnetic radiation deemed by reputable scientists to pose probable health dangers to residents, workers, [and] schools … and to recommend to Council appropriate measures, whether implementation of new bylaws or amendment of current bylaws, to ensure the health of citizens is protected.”
CTV Ltd., Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. and property owner Constance Gibson sued the city in British Columbia Supreme Court. Their 9-page filing does not address the scientific questions of whether exposure to such radiation can cause cancer or other health problems, as some people have claimed.
The plaintiffs say the city exceeded its jurisdiction because radio and telecommunications regulations are governed by the Canadian Parliament. The broadcasting towers on Triangle Mountain have operated since the 1920s.
“Even if the bylaw is valid in relation to other activities, it is constitutionally inapplicable to the broadcasting and radiocommunications operations of CTV Limited and RBL, which operate as federal undertakings pursuant to federal regulatory authority,” the complaint states. “The principle of interjurisdictional immunity applies.”
The plaintiffs are represented by W. Stanley Martin with Fasken Martineau Dumoulin.