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

Nail-biter win caps successful tournament for senior Mustangs

‘They were making junior mistakes — but that’s okay,’ says coach

Film club holds birthday bash for 75-year-old Hope Cinema

Hollywood starlet Judy Garland will grace the big screen in Hope on Dec. 19

Waterworks plan in final steps, says Hope District

Council approves borrowing of $1.8 million, upping water bills almost $50 a year

Petition for free menstrual products turned over to UFV president

Almost 1,300 signatures collected calling for all campus bathrooms to be stocked

New hiking trail to be built overlooking Hope

Waterfalls, rocky outcrops featured in new trail near Silver Creek

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

VIDEO: Giants edged out by Everett

Another case where Vancouver outshot an opponent, but couldn’t get past the other goalie

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopens after vehicle incident near Boston Bar

Initial reports of a jack-knifed semi truck had closed both directions of the highway

Most Read