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Maple Ridge council tweaks letter about smart meters

Maple Ridge council will give the provincial government a piece of its mind on smart meters, with the exception of Coun. Mike Morden.

After discussing the issue last week, council agreed on sending a letter to Premier Christy Clark, asking for support of the district’s motion to make B.C. Hydro smart meters optional. The letter will emphasize there’s “an expectation of public engagement, transparency and accountability related to decisions made by the provincial government and its Crown corporations and that decisions such as the installation of smart meters by B.C. Hydro involve public engagement prior to the decision being made.”

Some people have concerns about the health effects from the brief radio signals used to transmit electrical consumption in homes. But Morden didn’t support the resolution at Monday’s workshop meeting.

He didn’t know if Hydro had actually done public consultation before starting the $900-million project that will replace meters in 1.8 million homes across B.C. Morden said council should be cautious and try to ensure it’s not damaging relationships with the provincial government, adding that criticism is not helpful if the district was expecting money for a new school in Albion.

But Coun. Corisa Bell, who introduced the resolution, said B.C. Hydro was compelled by the provincial government to convert to smart meters.

“I don’t feel by expressing, encouraging our higher levels of government to partake in public consultation to be insulting in any way.”

She said council shouldn’t care what the Liberal party thinks. “We’re here to represent the people … I don’t feel we’re doing something wrong, but reminding them who they’re working for.”

Bell is one of the few non-Liberals on council and Morden is considering running for the Liberal nomination in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie said council was correct in sending the letter. The provincial government should have to meet the same requirements for public consultation as municipalities, she added.

It’s clear there was no public consultation before the conversion program, said Coun. Al Hogarth. “I’d just like to see us be a bit more aggressive.”

Morden added that Hydro has made 150 presentations throughout the province and visited 60 communities with each household getting letters in advance of installation.

If people don’t want a meter, they can call Hydro and get put on the hold list. Hydro representatives then contact the residents. But most residents accept the meters once they learn a bit, Hydro has said previously.

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