Meters process not so smart: councillors

Installations have already begun in Greater Victoria

Elizabeth Kozak holds a sign at Sunday's protest organized by the Citizens for Safe Technology Society and the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters at the legislature. About 200 people attended the rally

Elizabeth Kozak holds a sign at Sunday's protest organized by the Citizens for Safe Technology Society and the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters at the legislature. About 200 people attended the rally

The chorus of voices expressing concern over B.C. Hydro’s smart meter program has grown a little louder.

Oak Bay is the latest municipality to formally address the Crown corporation’s plan to install 1.8 million meters at homes and businesses around the province. There has been plenty of debate over the meters, on two main fronts.

Some are concerned that not enough is known about how electromagnetic radiation emitted by the wireless meters will affect human health. Others say an aggressive installation schedule has given residents little time to make formal appeals to B.C. Hydro to prevent their current meter from being replaced.

Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro’s community relations manager, was on hand at last week’s Oak Bay council meeting to explain the rollout plan and to assuage people’s fears about the meters’ purported health risks.

But it wasn’t enough for some councillors.

“This is not a two-way conversation, this is ‘We will give you the information and we will carry on,’” said Coun. Tara Ney. “I don’t know the science, I’m not a specialist, I don’t profess to know what’s right or wrong here. But what I do know is because of the way this is being handled, people’s concerns are not being fielded seriously.”

The replacements will eventually happen, said Olynyk, but if someone is worried about the long-term effects of the meters, B.C. Hydro will meet with them to try to clear the air.

“It’s not a question of opting out completely,” he said. “It’s a delay. We want to have a discussion with those customers and ease their mind over any concerns they may have.”

But some aren’t satisfied with the response they’ve received.

“It’s a matter of educating the public,” said Oak Bay resident Tatiana Laliupe. “When I leave messages, they go unanswered. I contacted them three times and all I got was one very brief answer.”

Some residents have built boxes around their old meters, which allow Hydro employees to conduct readings, but prevent them from completing new installations.

Ney wanted council to request a moratorium on installations in Oak Bay, but instead they passed a more modest motion to request B.C. Hydro to conduct a public consultation and information session in the community.

Hydro has not yet decided whether to act on council’s recommendation, but Olynyk said they are discussing what format such a session would take.

Other municipalities in the Capital Region have passed similar motions in recent months. Victoria council asked B.C. Hydro to explore an opt-out choice for consumers, and Colwood has called for a moratorium similar to the one Ney was seeking. In all cases, the motions are non-binding.

Over 6,000 meters have already been installed in Greater Victoria, Olynyk said, and the work will continue while B.C. Hydro attempts to address people’s fears.

“At the end of the day, to be connected to the grid, everybody needs a meter, but we will work with individual customers to address their concerns,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

Residents who wish to have their smart meter installation delayed can call 1-888-495-2767 or email smartmeters@bchydro.com

editor@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

University of Victoria researchers received more than $9 million from the federal government for projects that aim to advance big ideas, discoveries and innovations. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
University of Victoria research boosted with more than $9 million in federal funding

The research funding will support a wide range of projects and study

LeoVegas's promotional art for their survey of Canada's funniest proviences (LeoJoker)
B.C. second-funniest province in Canada: online survey

Dry humour popular with B.C. residents – we’re also boisterous laughers

Coun. Bob Thompson wants authorities to delay the June 30 deadline for submissions to BC Housing’s request-for-proposal to run the supportive housing project at Prosser Road. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich calls for delay in supportive housing project deadline

Municipality wants more say in eventual choice of contractor to run supportive housing project

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read