Esquimalt on board with push for second look at smart meters

10 municipalities could ask provincial government to stall installation of B.C. Hydro smart meters

Esquimalt council will be putting B.C. Hydro’s wireless meters under the microscope after several residents expressed their concerns over the technology.

Their appeal at last week’s council meeting included a request that council join 10 municipalities across B.C. in asking the province to put the breaks on B.C. Hydro’s installation of smart meters on residences and businesses in the Capital Region – a process that began earlier this month.

To date, 1,600 Wi-Fi meters have been installed – technology the utility company says will help consumers save up to 15 per cent on the cost of their bill and improve reliability as well as safety for hydro workers.

“(B.C. is) one of the largest consumers of electricity in the world so we have a lot to do,” said Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro community relations manager for Vancouver Island. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us to conserve.”

But a moratorium is needed to allow more time to investigate the technology’s health impacts and identify a safe alternative, said Sharon Noble, Colwood resident and organizer of Citizens Against Un-Safe Transmissions.

“Municipal governments have the duty to advise the (provincial) Ministry of Health of any health dangers that has been brought to your attention,” Noble told council.

Her group believes the technology emits carcinogenic electromagnetic radiation, but Olynyk said their fears are unfounded.

“If you’re waiting for your coffee and it’s a Wi-Fi (coffee) shop and it takes four minutes, you would have already been exposed to one year’s worth of a smart meter signal, provided you would have been standing by the smart meter every time it sent a signal every day,” Olynyk said.

Esquimalt council requested that township staff organize a presentation involving a cross-section of experts who can weigh in on the smart meter debate, including those from B.C. Hydro, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and possibly scientists with expertise in electromagnetic radiation.

“(These emissions are) a reality, but we don’t know enough about it,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins. “We need to hear why the government feels the need to move on this decision.

“It can’t just be a gut feeling.”

The presentation date will be announced on www.esquimalt.ca.

emccracken@vicnews.com