Statement by FCM on Supreme Court of Canada decision on telecommunications (16/06/2016)
Today, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified the constitutional powers of local government in regards to the siting of radio-communications and telecommunications infrastructure (i.e. antenna towers, cables, poles, etc.).
In its decision the Supreme Court has endorsed the principle that radio-communications and telecommunications, including the location of infrastructure, are matters of exclusive federal jurisdiction. The decision in Rogers v. Ville de Châteauguay is a disappointment for the municipal sector.
The existing consultation process for radio-communication antennas, strengthened in 2014 at the request of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), requires extensive municipal input although final siting decisions rest with the federal government. With respect to telecommunications, the Telecommunications Act specifically requires municipal consent in order for telecom companies to have access to the municipal right-of-way. Disputes on terms of access for telecom infrastructure will continue to be adjudicated by the CRTC.
The Court's decision today does not diminish existing consultation and approval processes. In this regard, FCM has been leading efforts for the past 20 years to ensure effective management of the municipal right of way through interventions at the CRTC. On antenna siting, FCM will continue to work collaboratively with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and our industry partners, to ensure that future placement of cell towers and other wireless communications infrastructure is carried out with the concerns of local governments and their residents in mind.
FCM will also continue to actively defend the constitutional rights of local governments through legal interventions on issues of broad national interest to Canada's municipalities.
FCM is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.