Merritt’s city councillors defeated the motion to place a moratorium on the installation of BC Hydro’s smart meters after only two councillors voted in favour of the ban during a regular council meeting, Jan. 24.

Instead, a majority of councillors indicated they would like to host a debate between representatives from both BC Hydro and the Nicola Valley Safe Technology advocates at a town hall meeting in an ongoing effort to reach a conclusion about the hotly debated smart meter program.

Coun. Mike Goetz who voted in favour of the motion, said he brought the motion forward again on Jan. 10 because Merritt was listed as one of 30 cities which had passed a moratorium thoucouncil had never actually passed the motion.

Coun. Dave Baker said he has struggled to reach a conclusion on the issue due to conflicting information and so voted in favour of the moratorium and suggested the debate.

“For every scientist, there’s another scientist on the other side rebutting it,” said Baker. “Personally, I’m not really worried about the smart meters, but some people are and we need to respect that.”

Before voting against the moratorium, Coun. Norm Brigden described the issue as “a bit of a conundrum,” and said he was at a disadvantage because he was not on council when the discussions began. After the moratorium was defeated, Brigden voted in favour of a debate between the two opposing groups along with Baker, Coun. Norgaard, and Mayor Susan Roline, who was the deciding vote.

While he appeared disappointed by the outcome of the moratorium vote, Goetz said he felt a debate would not be very effective.

“The last [BC Hydro] person that came up was a talking head,” said Goetz. “To send two more drones up is not going to be very effective.”

Approximately 19 people attended the council meeting to show support for a moratorium on the smart meters and six of them spoke during the public input period.

Millie Mitchell said she was not making a political statement, but speaking out for human rights and democracy and gave examples of neighbours who had wireless meters installed without their permission. Other speakers spoke about health and safety concerns.

“This is not Canada,” said Debra Rose during public input. “We have a chance to stand up for the democratic process in B.C. and leave a legacy for our grandchildren.”