By William Thomas




In an historic vote that marks another milestone in smart meter resistance, on the evening of April 11, 2012 Hornby Island residents voted overwhelmingly to declare our island, “Smart Meter Free Hornby”.


Meeting under the auspices of the Hornby Island Residents and Ratepayers Association, more than 40 residents and board members revisited a an earlier motion to lock the existing analog meter at the Community Hall and obtain the kit offered online by the Citizens for Safe Technology outlining the procedures for refusing a smart meter.


HIRRA serves as an umbrella or clearing house for many island committees and organisations.


During the comment period, Christiane Brown reported that “three-quarters of Hornby residents have said no to smart meters.” According to our two resident smart meter locksmiths, at least 350 Hornby residences have locked their existing analog meters.


Meter readers are also seeing a forest of notices forbidding the installation of smart meters sprouting from many of the island’s 540 permanent and 500 part-time residences. In recent days, another hundred residents have picked up the CST kits at the freepost notifying BC Hydro of their wish to skip the whole fiasco.


Christiane observed that smart meters have already triggered 6,000 complaints in BC. Of these admitted formal objections, it has not yet known how many complainants are suffering from smart meter-related health problems – including heart attacks triggered by hydro charges for all the ambient electrical fields captured by their “smart” meters.



“Since installation power bills have doubled and members of the household have become tired, sick and lethargic. Sleep is now very difficult and we do not wish to take pills…
Radio and TV interference has been shocking since this fiasco was imposed on us.”


Hydro’s ill-advised blitzkrieg has already faltered a full year beyond its original apocalyptic December 2012 completion date, when the switch is supposed to be thrown on a province-wide microwave onslaught.


An early organiser of Hornby’s campaign to keep smart meters off our island, Christiane Brown asked residents not to be intimidated by BC Hydro’s repeated threats to cut electricity to anyone refusing to submit to corporate coercion. “Electricity is an essential service in BC,” she said. And BC Hydro has not and cannot cut power to anyone paying their bills.


Instead of capitulating, Christiane called for Hornby to become a “Smart Meter Free Zone on the west coast.” As she explained, “At least there will be one place where people can go to get away from smart meters.”


HIRRA Vice President Daniel Siegel seized on this notion as a unifying vision. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about smart meters, Siegel said, offering Hornby as a refuge from smart meters deserved support because it elevates the issue beyond individual preferences to acting together for the common good of everyone in British Columbia.


(Siegel later said that an interview with Canadian electrical engineer Curtis Bennett had opened his eyes to the bigger danger of smart meter routers “affecting everyone” with their constant overlapping transmissions.)


After struggling for months over this issue, Siegel’s suggestion to link the motion securing the Community Hall meter to a broader ”Smart Meter Free Hornby” stunned the room. With previous HIRRA gatherings having twice shelved the matter for further review, many expected continued hand-wringing over a dilemma Shakespeare had already scripted:



“To Lock or not to Lock – that is the question...
Whether 'tis More Comfortable in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous BC Hydro.
Or to raise our Arms against their Sea of Radiation, attempted Surveillance and Extortion…
To sleep, perchance to Dream on in Denial; Ay, there's the rub… “



Trustee Tony Law praised his own efforts in “keeping communications open” with BC Hydro officials, whom he continues to characterise as really nice and trustworthy people committed to our best interests.


Whether we like it or not.


In explaining their support of Hornby as a Smart Meter Free Zone, both Law and the HIRRA Vice President expressed their profound disillusionment with BC Hydro, the Provincial Health Officer and BC ministers who have ignored repeated requests in writing from both HIRRA and the Local Islands Trust Committee to respond to their constituents’ concerns.


While attendees struggled to line up his statements, Law brought forward the amendment “in support of the objective of creating a Smart Meter Free Hornby.”


A feeling of solidarity swept the room as everyone present realised they were part of a community fully committed to prudent avoidance of what most perceive as an all pain, no gain proposition.


The Smart Meter Free Hornby amendment passed unanimously, with one abstention.


The wording of the original motion was then changed to call for the “implementation” of the CST smart meter kit. The full motion – including the decision to lock the hall meter and notify BC Hydro that residents have now forbidden smart meters on Hornby – passed overwhelmingly, with the secret ballot tally: 32 in favour, 10 opposed.


“Does it have the force of law?” a part-time island resident asked me in the co-op.


“No,” I answered. “It carries the force of moral ‘suasion backed by this community. And that’s even stronger.”


As smart meter protests and lawsuits continue, Cumberland and Enderby (and entire nations like Holland) have voted to prohibit smart meters.


So far, nearly 100 Hornby Islanders have agreed to meet Corix installers and escort them off the island. Set up like a Battle of Britain telephone network, with each neighbourhood reporting to its own central hub, an island-wide phone tree is in place to report and coordinate our response to microwave-bearing bogies. (Drivers will also use various horn signals to alert islanders to the direction and location of the smart meter threat.)


With grass roots resistance now backed by the full force of last night’s vote, anyone considering coming to Hornby Island to install smart meters is advised to bring a bathing suit and lifejacket.