A range of issues was discussed by Park City’s City Council at their Thursday meeting. The potential risks associated with 5G technology and the challenge of attracting tourists to the city despite not hosting any major events during the COVID-19 pandemic were both highlights.
Even though Park City does not have the power to prevent 5G technology from coming, city government does control the permitting process and has some say in where the facilities will go throughout town after the passage of Utah Senate Bill 189 in 2018.
The power to deny the use of 5G services is currently in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission. Councilmember Nann Worel said on Thursday she is frustrated that Park City has no say in whether 5G will be allowed and expressed concern over the potential health risks associated with the technology.
“I mean these are obviously being forced down our throat, we don’t really have a choice whether they’re here or not, which infuriates me,” she said. “I’ve read enough articles, I’ve talked to enough people, watched some videos, and I understand there’s arguments on both sides, but there’s enough arguments that they do cause health hazards that really gives me pause and gives me concern.”
Worel’s statements stem from concerns that exposure to the high-frequency radio waves used by 5G technology could potentially lead to health conditions later on in life.
According to a May article published in The Atlantic, scientists have been curious about the relationship between wireless technology and the human body for decades and several cities and towns across the country have passed ordinances to curb the deployment of 5G technology, specifically citing health concerns.
Worel said she would like to see some form of protection in place to ensure the health of residents and visitors once 5G equipment comes to Park City.
Council also discussed the challenge of attracting tourism to Park City in order to stimulate the economy despite almost all of the events scheduled for the summer and fall being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Councilmember Tim Henney said although efforts have been made to attract visitors to Park City, there is a difference between hosting an event with large crowds and attracting large numbers of tourists.
“There’s a difference between holding an event that creates gathering and the gathering is the crucial component,” Henney said. “When I go to Main Street, I see lots of people there, it’s not a ghost town. Obviously, there’s some success in bringing people to town but they’re not all gathering in one location, they are able to physically distance, they are wearing their masks, and that’s the difference. If you pack a bunch of people into a parking lot because you’re going to do some sort of a race and you’ve got participants and you’ve got families and everybody’s there and you can’t really control physical distancing and you can’t control wearing masks and some do and some don’t. There’s your problem.”
The next Park City City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4.