Protesters rally against smart meters

Dozens of opponents of Smart metres gathered outside MLA Rich Coleman
Dozens of opponents of Smart metres gathered outside MLA Rich Coleman's Langley Events Centre constituency office on Friday for a boisterous protest. Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines, was not in his office which was empty and locked. Above, Una St. Clair of Citizens for Safe Technology, addresses the crowd. She is flanked by Sharon Noble (right), the director the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters, and Jacqueline Little of Nanaimo.
— image credit: Natasha Jones/Langley Times

Dozens of protesters gathered on 200 Street outside the Langley Events Centre at noon on Friday in a boisterous two-hour protest of B.C. Hydro’s smart meter program.

Led by Una St. Clair of Citizens for Safe Technology, the protesters waved placards and banners. In a show of support, hundreds of drivers honked their horns and gave them the thumbs up.

The protesters chose the location not only for its exposure on Langley’s busiest road, but also because the Langley Events Centre houses the constituency office of Rich Coleman, the MLA for Fort Langley-Aldergrove, and the Minister responsible for Energy and Mines.

Coleman’s office was empty and locked, and midway through the two-hour protest, a man was seen tearing off an anti-smart meter notice that had been taped to the door.

The modernization of BC Hydro’s metering system is intended to be safer, more reliable and cost effective than the current system, and reduce electricity theft.

But opposition has been focused on the belief that the meters are hazardous to health, pollute homes and the outdoors with environmental poison.

“Say no to poison in our own homes,” St. Clair called out through a bullhorn.

Among the protesters was Chris Anderson of Saltspring Islanders for Safe Technology. He said that 20 people are canvassing 5,300 homes in the Gulf Islands community.

“The intention is to have Saltspring Island opt out as a region and be a shining example for the rest of the province on what not to do. We see no benefit of Smart meters to the consumer. The only benefit is to Hydro,” Anderson said.

Hydro anticipates that its conversion from manual meter reading to the new technology will be completed by 2012, but a growing number of residents are refusing to allow workers from Corix, hired by Hydro to replace analog meters, onto their properties.

The issue of concern, opponents say, is that the meters radiate microwave frequency day and night.

In a notice circulated to promote the rally, organizers said that Coleman “is completely ignoring all evidence of harm, including the World Health [Organization] ruling that radio frequency emissions are a possible cause of cancer.”

“He is ignoring medical doctor’s letters requesting analogue meters for sick patients and most importantly he is trashing our democratic, civil, and human rights as enshrined in our Charter and Constitution.”

Unlike cell phones, which expose only the head to non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation, smart meters expose the whole body to what a year ago the World Health Organization classified “as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Last year, Township council agreed to ask the provincial and federal ministers of health to place a moratorium on the installation of smart meters until an independent assessment is carried out and wired alternative solutions are provided at no cost to consumers.

The UBCM also supported the moratorium last September, but the provincial government has refused to shift its support of Hydro.

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