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

Chilliwack celebrates Chinese New Year at Sardis Library

Members of Vancouver’s Xinru Centre taught folks history of Chinese New Year, knot tying, calligraphy

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Jan. 20 to 26

Minus two-degree weather a warm welcome following cold snap in Chilliwack

People flocked to the hills Saturday, sleds in hand, to take in some snowy fun in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Highway 1 to look like winter war zone until owners retrieve wrecked vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

Charity Clothes2U ready to hand out free items to people in need in Chilliwack

The Clothes2U Winter Giveaway event will be in Chilliwack at Cooke’s Presbyterian Church

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read