Victoria resident Sharon Noble protests at a demonstration against smart meters in downtown Vancouver.

B.C.’s high court unplugs smart meter appeal

Ruling leaves human rights complaint based on electromagnetic sensitivity still to be heard

Opponents of B.C. Hydro’s smart meters have lost a legal challenge against the nearly complete province-wide installation of the wireless devices.

The B.C. Court of Appeal refused to consider an appeal by Andrea Collins and Citizens for Safe Technology (CST) in a written ruling released Nov. 13.

The smart meter opposition group had hoped to halt the ongoing rollout by getting the court to rule that the program did not have a required certificate from the B.C. Utilities Commission and that the province’s exemption from that requirement wasn’t legal.

The utilities commission had previously rejected the claims but Collins and CST tried appealing it to B.C.’s top court.

The court found no substantive grounds to hear a full appeal.

The defeat leaves smart meter opponents hoping the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will uphold their complaint – to be heard in the new year – that the mandatory installation of wireless meters discriminates against residents who claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

“Hopefully the human rights tribunal will recognize B.C. Hydro is coming between patients and their doctors and recognize that electro-sensitivity is a growing concern around the world,” said Victoria smart meter activist Sharon Noble.

Hydro contractors have already installed more than 95 per cent of the 1.7 million new smart meters in virtually all of B.C. except the Gulf Islands.

But Noble said she believes there are still many holdouts and added the opposition won’t give up – even if B.C.’s smart grid is completed.

“Just because it’s in doesn’t mean it’s right,” she said. “This is a major problem. It’s not going to go away just because Hydro has finished their installation.”

Noble said she and many other opponents will go off the grid before they accept smart meters in their homes and said they will keep fighting for Hydro customers to have the option to have a wired meter instead.

New legal challenges are possible, she added.

Hydro maintains its wireless smart meter network is safe and public health authorities in B.C. have said they have no concerns.