There is a Bell cell site atop Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s flag pole that is barely visible from the street, but some people working in the rented stores fronting onto Main Street within the building are concerned about possible ill health effects from it. Additional equipment is mounted in the clock tower and a large technical unit is located at the rear of the theatre building.
Fred Eaglesmith operates his entertainment businesses, including The Hobo Store, from two neighbouring rented retail spaces at 243 and 245 Main Street.
He told The Maple Leaf on Monday that during the summer he and store manager Tim Elgersma (his son) noticed activity around the building but it wasn’t until later they learned it was for what they describe as an Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMF) system.
They have since studied EMF extensively and came to the determination that ongoing exposure to those frequencies may, or may not, be harmful over an extended period of time.
At 26 years of age, Tim Elgersma does not want to gamble his future health on the possibility of health issues related to being exposed to those frequencies, radiation and heat from it.
LFT Administrative Director Helen Wagenaar stated on Monday the theatre corporation asked for, and received, confirmation from Bell that all equipment and its installation met, and surpassed, all requirements of Health Canada standards.
LFT also advised that “this type of equipment is common and widespread and LFT has no reason to even suspect that it poses a health and safety concern. Nonetheless, Lighthouse has left it to the telecommunications companies, Health Canada and the regulators to govern these issues.”
The theatre said they insisted on that assurance for their staff, their tenants and 40,000 yearly theatre-goers.
Fred Eaglesmith has rented one location for 10 years, the other space for about three years. He says the location is ideal for their business that has been built up to a point of being financially successful.
When asked if they had approached Norfolk County officials about this problem, Mr. Eaglesmith related past experiences, declaring, “Norfolk County is not business-friendly, at least not for my business”.
The business operated in those two spaces include selling musical instruments, equipment for instruments, just about everything connected to music, as well as music lessons (some classes have 50 members) and art.
Fred Eaglesmith says his bottom line is for Lighthouse Festival Theatre to indicate a solution, “or on December 1st we will give notice we are closing the store,” he told The Maple Leaf.
Administrative Director Wagenaar told The Maple Leaf the theatre personnel very much admire Fred Eaglesmith, his family and staff for their outstanding contributions to the landscape of Main Street.
Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s Board of Directors also said they respect Fred and the ten years they have partnered as landlord and tenant. To that end, they say they have offered to help make his transition out of the storefront he rents from the theatre as seamless as possible. An offer has been made to Fred to let him out of his lease immediately if he wishes and with no penalty, to allow him to set up at another location in time for the Christmas rush.
The theatre says it has already received several inquiries from other business owners with an interest in the storefronts, and looks forward to building as productive and mutually beneficial relationship with them as they have had with Fred.
Photo: Fred Eaglesmith says Electro magnetic frequencies from a cell site atop the clock tower are not safe. He says he will close his two Main Street stores if a solution is not found by December 1st.