BC Hydro has already installed more than 100

Hydro smart meter fears aired at UBCM

Province will ignore any call for a moratorium

Opponents of BC Hydro smart meters were out in force both inside and outside the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Tuesday.

Mayors and councillors, many of them from Vancouver Island, questioned wireless radiation health risks, privacy concerns and the ultimate costs of the meters at a convention forum.

They heard assurances from Hydro officials and health officers that the meters are safe and won’t steal personal information.

Surrey’s deputy fire chief told delegates the meters could actually make cities safer by giving advance warning that a transformer is getting dangerously hot before it sparks a fire.

The devices are supposed to detect power outages faster, catch electricity-stealing pot growers and encourage users to be more efficient.

Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto said her council heard from hundreds of concerned residents before proposing Hydro freeze the $930-million rollout, undertake more public consultation and allow households to opt out.

“There needs to be time to have that conversation,” she said. “For me it’s about choice.”

Alto said the issue echoes the defeat of the harmonized sales tax, adding the meters again raise the spectre of a big government body rushing to impose something that many residents fear will hurt them.

“Had Hydro done a quality public information and consultation piece far in advance there would be less concern,” she said.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who chaired the smart meter session, said he has no concerns about them.

“Look at all the ubiquitous use of cellphones and all the other frequencies that are in our airwaves,” he said, adding smart meters would be on less than a minute a day.

Various wifi networks blanket much of the Lower Mainland – some of them installed by local cities.

Moore noted some B.C. cities, including Surrey, are installing their own wireless smart water meters at homes to electronically monitor real-time water use.

Others have installed wireless parking meters.

Another fear of smart meter opponents is that BC Hydro will eventually use them for time-of-use pricing, forcing users to pay more at peak times in a bid to smooth out electricity demand.

Hydro denies it has any timeline for such a move.

UBCM delegates vote later this week on the smart meter issue – although what they do won’t be binding.

Hydro crews have already installed 100,000 smart meters across B.C. and that’s to rise to 250,000 by later this fall.

Energy minister Rich Coleman vowed the conversion will not be stopped.

Another resolution before delegates, meanwhile, demands high-speed Internet and cellphone access be extended across the province.

BC Hydro launched its own counter-offensive this week, telling UBCM delegates their radiation exposure from the wireless networks in the Vancouver convention centre adds up to 4,590 minutes this week, equivalent to years of exposure to a household smart meter.

Just Posted

Fernie fatbiking season in full swing

Riders hit the trails on Global Fatbike Day

Fernie man receives federal fire service medal

Kim Sedrovic is retiring from Fernie Fire Rescue after 25 years with the service

Thrift shop turns five

Elk Valley Thrift Shop Society has raised $370,000 since inception

Elk Valley mayors to lead hospital district board

Dean McKerracher, David Wilks elected to Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board

Rezoning paves way for next stages of Montane Fernie

Multi-family units, cottages, recreational facilities planned as part of multimillion-dollar project

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

Out of the doghouse: B.C. city lifts ban on pup who barked too much at dog park

Cameron the Shetland sheepdog is allowed back into Uplands off-leash dog park under some conditions.

No flood of extremist returnees to Canada expected, federal report says

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

Prosecutor signs off on former B.C. Liberal government’s quick-wins probe

David Butcher said in a statement released Monday that the RCMP recommended charges under the Elections Act

Canadian physicist who won Nobel Prize touts science for the sake of science

Donna Strickland, 59, said securing the field’s highest honour has given her a significant new platform

Cranbrook planning X-Games style winter festival

Events to include snowmobilers, snowboarders and bands peforming downtown on Feb. 16, 2019

Too many die in heavy truck crashes, B.C. auditor says

Province has no mandatory driver training for commercial vehicles

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Most Read