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RDN formailizes opposition to Smart Meters

The Regional District of Nanaimo this week went ahead and ratified a series of motions against B.C. Hydro smart meters — despite its proponent being absent and several friendly amendments.

The move came after four delegations spoke in favour of the four motions by Coombs-Errington director Julian Fell.

Enid Sangster-Kelly focused on risk-taking in her presentation to the board, stressing that successful businesspeople take risks in order to make money — and she doesn't want risks taken with her health.

Joanne Sales also spoke, likening the electromagnetic radiation being emitted by the devices to asbestos — which at one time was not deemed to be harmful. "We are not crazy and we have legitimate questions that we want addressed," she said. "There are thousands of valid scientific studies done that show health impacts."

Debate around the table was highly charged, with some directors questioning both the efficacy and assumptions inherent in the motions.

Fell's first motion, which cited evidence for harmful effects of EMR that he said justified measures to reduce human exposure, passed without comment. However,  a second motion — which stated that no person should be involuntarily exposed to EMR, including sources on a neighbour's property, proved more problematic.

"Whether I agree or don't agree with the presentations, what I am more concerned about is asking things we have no jurisdiction on," said Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie.

"Now we're talking about the neighbour's property. Are we putting something on the books we can't do anything with?"

His concerns were echoed by Deep Bay-Bowser director Bill Veenhof, who stressed that while he believes nobody should be forced to have a smart meter if they don't want one, the resolution was too vague and talked about EMR as a whole, rather than the radiation from smart meters in particular.

Nanaimo director George Anderson was also leery, calling the motion vague."When I put forward a motion I want to see an end result and I don't see anything coming out of this," he said. "I want to see something credible and substantial happen."

Lantzville director Brian Dempsey went further, arguing that if people don't want smart meters, they should be willing to have their house inspected to ensure they aren't running a marijuana grow-op.

"I'm really concerned because somebody could refuse a meter because they're running an operation," he said. "If they refuse a meter, I would like to see their home inspected to see of they're not running a drug lab.  They shouldn't be ashamed to have someone on the property."

Veenhof's amendment to the motion to remove mention of neighbours' properties, passed however, which made it palatable enough for the main motion to pass as well.

Trouble was still brewing however, in Fell's third motion, which called on the RDN to request RCMP not to interfere in forced installations of smart meters on contesting properties.

Again, Willie led the charge against the motion.

"Now we are going to start giving instructions to the RCMP?" he asked. "That's not within the parameters of this board."

This time, Parksville director Marc Lefebvre came to the rescue, with an amendment saying that no person should suffer trespass for smart meters — and leaving out mention of the RCMP. This passed and was enough to get the motion passed.

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