1. Through the release of this document, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), on behalf of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (the Minister), announces decisions resulting from the consultation process undertaken in Canada Gazette Notice DGSO-002-21, Consultation on Amending CPC-2-0-03 – Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems (the Consultation).
2. Comments on the Consultation were received from:
- BCE Inc. (Bell)
- Canadian Radiocommunications Information and Notification Service (CRINS)
- NAV Canada
- Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC)
- Rogers Communications Canada Inc. (Rogers)
- Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel)
- Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw)
- TELUS Communications Inc. (TELUS)
- Xplornet Communications Inc. (Xplornet)
3. The Minister, through the Department of Industry Act, the Radiocommunication Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, with due regard to the objectives of the Telecommunications Act, is responsible for spectrum management in Canada. As such, the Minister is responsible for developing national policies for spectrum utilization and ensuring effective management of the radio frequency spectrum resource.
4. The Minister is provided the general powers for spectrum management in Canada, pursuant to section 5 of the Radiocommunication Act and sections 4 and 5 of the Department of Industry Act. Paragraph 5(1)(f) of the Radiocommunication Act provides the Minister with the authority to “approve each site on which radio apparatus, including antenna systems, may be located, and approve the erection of all masts, towers and other antenna-supporting structures.”
5. In exercising his powers under the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister may take into account all matters that the Minister considers relevant for ensuring the orderly establishment or modification of radio stations and the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication in Canada. As such, the Minister considers the responsibilities that ISED and regulated entities may have under federal legislation such as the Official Languages Act and the Impact Assessment Act.
4. Policy objectives
6. Pursuant to CPC-2-0-03, anyone planning to install or modify an antenna system (referred to herein as “proponent(s)”) is required to notify and consult with the applicable land-use authorities to determine local consultation requirements, and to consult with the public to address reasonable and relevant concerns relating to antenna system siting and/or design. Overall, ISED's objective in requiring consultation for most significant new antenna systems is to facilitate an open, transparent process that promotes the continued orderly and efficient expansion of wireless technologies and services.
7. This document (the Decision) takes into consideration comments on ISED's proposed revisions to CPC-2-0-03 to enable Canadians to participate in these processes in the official language of their choice.
8. In March 2021, ISED published Consultation on Amending CPC-2-0-03 – Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, which sought comments on proposals for the inclusion of official language requirements for public consultations detailed in CPC-2-0-03.
9. The Consultation also sought comments on a number of other minor amendments including updating the name of the department to ISED throughout, and updating references relating to the environmental considerations and aeronautical safety responsibilities outlined in section 6.2 of the Consultation.
6. Proposed implementation of official language requirements for the public consultation process contained in CPC-2-0-03
10. ISED sought comments on two options for the introduction of official language requirements in CPC-2-0-03. The first option was to require proponents to provide initial communications with the public in both official languages and respond to comments from the public in the official language in which the comments were made. This option would apply in every community across Canada. The second option was to apply the same official language requirements only in the communities located in census subdivisions that have an official language minority population of 5% or higher (annex A of the Consultation). ISED also sought comments on other aspects related to the wording or implementation of the proposals.
Summary of comments
11. A majority of respondents (Bell, RAC, Rogers, Shaw and Xplornet) expressed a preference for official language requirements only in communities with an official minority population of 5% or higher. CRINS was supportive of both options, but further noted that smaller operators, typically regional or local entities, may not have the resources necessary to produce materials in both official languages, which may increase their costs if the official language requirements applied across Canada.
12. TELUS stated that the proposed requirements were unnecessary and that land-use authorities are best positioned to inform proponents on providing initial communications in either official language, recommending that the official language requirements be limited only to ISED's default consultation process and not be applied to circumstances where a land-use authority already has its own consultation process. As such, TELUS recommended limiting the application of the official language requirements to scenarios where ISED's default consultation process is being followed and only to the initial consultation with communities. Rogers raised similar sentiments as TELUS, but expressed support for applying official language requirements in communities with an official language minority population of at least 5%.
13. SaskTel opposed both options. It felt a universal obligation was not justified in Saskatchewan, where few residents would require bilingual correspondence. SaskTel proposed that official languages requirements only be obligatory where the land-use authority requests or requires a bilingual public consultation process.
14. For comments on other aspects relating to the wording or implementation of the proposals, RAC recommended changing the proposed requirements by including the distinction already made in section 6 of CPC-2-0-03, issue 5. Under its proposal, RAC suggested that telecommunications carriers, broadcasting undertakings and third-party tower owners be required to provide initial communications in both official languages. However, unless established land-use authority processes require otherwise, other proponents such as amateur radio operators, would only be required to provide information in the minority official language if a request is received in response to this offer.
15. Rogers recommended that ISED initiate a more comprehensive review of CPC-2-0-03 to address certain issues of interpretation over wording related to exemption from the Consultation found within section 6 of CPC-2-0-03. Given the changing technologies and the introduction of 5G and small cells, Rogers suggested a more comprehensive review of CPC-2-0-03 would help to address certain problems.
16. CRINS took the position that the responsibility to ensure that source materials such as surveys and site plans are compliant with the proposed requirement should fall on the proponents and not CRINS or the land-use authority.
17. ISED acknowledges that the relevant land-use authority is in many circumstances best positioned to determine the linguistic needs of its population. Therefore, if a land-use authority's existing process requires bilingual communications with the public, irrespective of the size of the official language minority population, proponents are required to follow those public consultation requirements.
18. In ISED's role as a regulator applying requirements to proponents across Canada, ISED considers the spirit and intent of Canada's Official Languages Act. The preamble to the Official Languages Act states, among other things, that “the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the vitality and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities, as an integral part of the two official language communities of Canada, and to fostering full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society.”
19. ISED also notes that its policy objective for tower siting consultations under CPC-2-0-03 is to facilitate an open and transparent process that promotes the continued orderly and efficient expansion of wireless technologies and services. A general requirement that applies to proponents across Canada will help ensure that members of the public can participate in consultations and address their reasonable and relevant concerns relating to the siting and design of a proposed antenna system in their community, in their official language.
20. As a number of respondents to the Consultation indicated, an obligation for proponents to conduct such tower siting consultations in both official languages in all communities across Canada would be onerous for smaller operators or proponents. ISED observes that, of the 4,585 census subdivisions for which official language population data were available in the 2016 Census of Population (the Census), approximately 30% had no official language minority population. Bilingual consultation requirements would be unnecessary for the populations in these census subdivisions.
21. ISED further observes that if a threshold official language minority population of 5% were adopted, official language consultation requirements would not apply in many census subdivisions, which have an official language minority population. This scenario would exclude more than 20% of Canada's total official language minority population. Under the circumstances, ISED considers that adopting a threshold that better ensures the participation of all official language minority populations would be more consistent with facilitating full participation in open and transparent public consultations.
22. In arriving at its decision, ISED has weighed the importance for official language minority populations to be consulted on tower siting proposals in their official language against the appropriateness of imposing official language requirements on proponents in communities that do not have an official language minority population.
23. ISED decided to add a section to CPC-2-0-03 requiring all proponents to provide initial communications to the public in both official languages in communities located in census subdivisions that have an official language minority population of any size. Proponents will also be required to respond to written or verbal comments from the public in the official language in which the comments were made.
24. To identify the census subdivisions with official language minority populations, ISED will use data from Statistics Canada based on the most recent Census. ISED will prepare and publish a list of these census subdivisions in the relevant section of the ISED website, cross-referenced to CPC-2-0-03. At the time of publication of this Decision, official language minority population data from the 2021 Census was not available; therefore, ISED will publish a list of census subdivisions after the relevant 2021 Census data are available. ISED will review the list of these census subdivisions from time to time, including after each Census.
25. An “official language minority population” is the population in a census subdivision outside Quebec that declares French as the first official language spoken, or the population in a census subdivision in Quebec that declares English as the first official language spoken. ISED will use the definition of “first official language spoken” that appears in section 2 of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.
26. There are number of census subdivisions for which Statistics Canada is unable to report on official language minority populations, due to the small size of the population or non-responses to the Census. Given the lack of information on official language minority populations in these census subdivisions, ISED has determined that the official language requirements in CPC-2-0-03 will not apply to them. Regarding making a distinction between types of proponents for which the consultation requirements apply, ISED is of the view that whether a proponent is installing a system for commercial purposes or not, the potential impact on those in the consultation area remains the same. Therefore, in the interest of all Canadians, ISED will not be making a distinction between different types of proponents or operations with respect to the applicability of the official language requirements in CPC-2-0-03.
27. Comments submitted not relating directly to ISED's proposed implementation of official language requirements for public consultations under CPC-2-0-03 or ISED's other proposed amendments to CPC-2-0-03 are outside the scope of this Consultation.
ISED will amend CPC-2-0-03 to include official language requirements for public tower siting consultations, as follows:
The following requirements apply to the public consultation process for all proponents:
- Whether the proponent follows the land-use authority's consultation process or ISED's default public consultation process, initial communications with the public (including but not limited to notification packages and public notices) must be made in both official languages in communities located in census subdivisions that have an official language minority population of any size.
- ISED will publish a list of the census subdivisions after the relevant 2021 Census data are available, and will update the list from time to time, including after each Census.
- If, in the context of the public consultation process, a member of the public in any of these communities provides written or verbal questions, comments, relevant concerns, or reply comments, the proponent must respond in the official language in which the questions, comments or relevant concerns were made.
- Proponents must follow the consultation process established by the land-use authority, where one exists. In the event that a land-use authority's existing process requires bilingual communications with the public, proponents must follow those public consultation requirements.
6.1 Timing of the implementation of amendments
28. ISED also invited comments on the timing of the introduction of the requirements, which it proposed apply to public consultations starting April 1, 2022.
Summary of comments
29. On the issue of the timing for the implementation of the proposed official language requirements, which was set for April 1, 2022, respondents who provided comments on this topic including Bell, CRINS, Rogers, SaskTel, TELUS and Xplornet, were all supportive. Bell stated that the requirements should only apply to new proposed sites and not apply retroactively to other consultations.
30. As ISED noted in the Consultation, proponents will require time to adjust to the changes to CPC-2-0-03. ISED has therefore decided to apply these requirements effective August 1, 2023. For consultation processes launched prior to this date, proponents should continue to follow the direction or advice of land-use authorities regarding local consultation requirements.
In order to provide proponents with the time necessary to adjust to the new official languages requirements, the requirements will come into force and apply to public consultations starting August 1, 2023. These requirements will not apply to public consultations that are initiated before August 1, 2023.
6.2 Other proposed amendments to CPC-2-0-03
31. ISED also invited comments on its proposal to make minor amendments to CPC-2-0-03, including updating:
- the name of the department to ISED throughout
- references to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to reflect the coming into force of the Impact Assessment Act
- Transport Canada references and details relating to aeronautical safety responsibilities to reflect current forms and definitions
Summary of comments
32. Bell, CRINS, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw and Xplornet all expressed support for the proposed amendments.
33. NAV Canada proposed amended text to the final paragraph of section 7.5 of CPC-2-0-03 so it would read as follows:
- Land-use proposal submission forms are available from the NAV CANADA website (search the keywords “land use proposal”). Completed forms are to be sent to the NAV CANADA Land Use Office. NAV CANADA will assess whether a proposal has impacts on the safe and efficient provision of air navigation services and their facilities on- or off-airports.
To ensure that the references and contact information in CPC-2-0-03 are correct and up-to-date, ISED will move forward with several minor amendments to CPC-2-0-03 including:
- updating the name of the department to ISED throughout
- updating references to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to reflect the coming into force of the Impact Assessment Act
- updating Transport Canada references and details relating to aeronautical safety responsibilities to reflect current forms and definitions
- adopting the text proposed by NAV Canada in its submission
7. Implementation and next steps
34. These changes will be reflected in CPC-2-0-03, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, issue 6.
8. Obtaining copies
35. All spectrum-related documents referenced in this Decision are available on ISED's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website.
36. For further information concerning the process outlined in this Decision or related matters, contact:
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Senior Director, Spectrum Management Operations Branch
235 Queen Street, 6th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0H5