Apps on a smart phone are shown in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, November 13, 2017. Canada’s push toward fifth-generation wireless technology promises network upgrades that could enable everything from powering complex new technologies to closing the digital divide. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

RDOS hears concerns about 5G wireless technology

Potential safety concerns raised as communications technology expands

A South Okanagan man wants telecommunications companies and public utilities in the region to stop building 5G wireless infrastructure until the technologies have been proven safe.

At the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Corporate Services Committee meeting on Thursday morning, David Balfour, an opponent on 5G development, presented a suggested resolution about the technology.

“No long-term safety testing has been conducted on new 5G wireless technologies and Health Canada has failed to update Safety Code 6, its human RF exposure guideline, despite being advised of its inadequacy by hundreds of medical and scientific experts from around the world,” Balfour said.

“The theory that exposure to RF microwave radiation is harmless, which has been the underlying principle of all federal legislation and regulations regarding wireless technologies for more than 20 years, has now been proven false.”

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Bill Newell, chief administrative officer for the regional district, said the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for the management of this technology in Canada.

He added that the Canadian government’s position is that 5G technology will allow for technologies including autonomous vehicles, smart cities, clean energy, precision agriculture and advanced telemedicine.

“To help enable these valuable new technologies, the government of Canada is taking steps to make prime 5G spectrum available,” he said in a report to the committee.

“Policy development is based on a belief that Canadians want high-quality services, ubiquitous coverage and affordable prices from their telecommunications service providers.”

Members of the regional district board are asking for more information about 5G technology.

“You can’t ignore this,” said Jake Kimberley, a Penticton representative to the board. “If there’s something out there, we need to look at what it is.”

Suzan McKortoff from Osoyoos also stated the need for more information.

“Let’s explore this more to see what we can do,” she said. “People need to say how they feel, and it needs to be looked at.”

Manfred Bauer from Keremeos asked for additional information from someone knowledgeable about 5G wireless technology.

“We need to hear from someone who knows the other side,” he said.

The board approved a motion to send a letter to MPs Richard Cannings and Dan Albas, asking them to advise the regional district on any steps the federal government may be taking with 5G technology.

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