A BC Hydro Smart Meter display on hand for a presentation at the SILGA convention in Revelstoke last week.

Revelstoke city council dodges Smart Meter debate

City council says the Smart Meter program is BC Hydro’s not theirs; they ask residents to take up their concerns with Hydro directly

Notes from the April 24 Revelstoke city council regular meeting.

Council dodged a resident’s letter of concern about Smart Meters by asking residents to take up the issue with BC Hydro. The Smart Meters are set to be installed in Revelstoke in the coming weeks. Now that residents are receiving notice in their mailboxes, some are expressing concerns. However, council opted out of the issue by asking residents to contact a BC Hydro hotline with any concerns. Mayor David Raven noted the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board of directors had requested a presentation, which they did get. “They addressed most of the issues that were raised,” Raven said. He added residents could call Hydro, but acknowledged “some people may not be satisfied with that.”

Although not related to city council, at the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) convention in Revelstoke over the weekend, BC Hydro representatives gave a presentation to about 70 local government representatives. The presentation underscored the benefits of the program – including the kind of information readers could access about the program on a BC Hydro website.

One local government representative asked why Hydro wasn’t giving community presentations, adding local governments were left holding the bag and taking the heat despite the fact they had little say over the program.

The Hydro representative on hand said they had tried community presentations, but said they hadn’t been effective at getting their message across because the meetings served as a platform for Smart Meter opponents.

What would happen with those who are posting signs refusing the meters? The spokesperson said they’d try to convince them to convert, but at this point she didn’t know what would happen in the end.

Outside in the hallway at the SILGA convention, Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald challenged Hydro’s decision not to hold community meetings on Smart Meters: “Well, it’s an uncomfortable way for them, but it’s completely effective. If you’re right, you can stand in front of a room and make an argument. If you’re confident that the information you have and the proof you have is solid, you can stand in front of a room in Revelstoke and make and argument and maybe not convince everyone, but the vast majority of people you can convince,” Macdonald said. “And when they’re not willing to do that I think it feeds into the problem. That’s just not the way that you should approach it. It’s not respectful. People have a right to voice concerns about things that they think impact their health and their children’s health. They have that right.”

Macdonald said the NDP’s position on the meters focused on the economic impact of the meters and the politics of the program’s implementation, but not the health concern aspect.

Land Use changes bylaw stalled temporarily

Revelstoke council had a somewhat acrimonious debate over the Land Use Changes bylaw, which is winding its way towards final adoption following a public hearing.

Coun. Tony Scarcella touched off some controversy when he said comments from the public hearing weren’t properly incorporated into the final package to council. “My comment is we don’t listen to the people of Revelstoke.”

Mayor David Raven challenged Scarcella, noting the bylaw had been in development for many months, including many input sessions. “Our role here is to represent the entire public in our decision-making processes,” Raven said. Just because someone made a comment at the last meeting, all the other previous comments and planning expertise shouldn’t be negated by those last comments; they should be balanced.

The remaining council concerns with the plan focus on two areas: the Arrow Heights area and a proposed expansion of the downtown core to include areas extending towards Mountain View school.

Coun. Gary Starling expressed some concerns that residents’ worries about the nature of changes to the Arrow Heights neighbourhood hadn’t been incorporated in the final bylaw.

In the end, council asked the planning department to come back and “paint [us] a picture” of the changes to these neighbourhoods.

Fees and Charges bylaw passed

Council passed a new fees and charges bylaw that will shift fees for services provided by most departments towards a “user-pay” model. The bylaw is now adopted and is moving towards implementation. The bylaw has been the subject of several stories in the Times Review as it worked its way through the process.

 

 

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