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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Regional District of Central Kootenay declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders and alerts

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

Severe storm warning remains in effect for the Kootenays

Two special weather statements have been issued for the West Kootenay

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Powerful thunderstorms called for the West Kootenay this weekend

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement Thursday afternoon.

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

Update: Deceased suspect in West Kootenay gas station stabbing only in town two weeks

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read