The Week — Aug. 3

B.C. Privacy takes on BC Hydro, Shambhala got sexier, Big time complications for Big Time Out and some bad Karma in the making

B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is ready to ask BC Hydro some tough questions about Smart Meters.

B.C. Privacy takes on BC Hydro

To the great pleasure of wireless-haters everywhere, B.C.’s Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has decided to heed the outcries of thousands of residents around the province and forge a formal investigation into BC Hydro’s Smart Meter Program, to ensure that it complies with provincial privacy law.

“The privacy and security of energy consumption data is a very real issue for citizens throughout the province,” says Denham. “With an increase in the frequency of the information collected from Smart Meters comes an increased responsibility on BC Hydro to ensure that privacy and security is built into the smart grid.”

Jumping the gun or not, BC Hydro has already started installing the wireless meters and, by the end of 2012, plans to install more than 1.8 million throughout B.C. The commissioner will investigate and release a public report on whether or not the Smart Meters comply with the collection, use, disclosure, retention and security of personal information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. BC Hydro has been cooperative.

Shambhala got sexier

Thanks to the valiant efforts of a few Victorians, the Shambhala Music Festival, held annually out of Salmo, B.C., just got a little sexier and a whole lot safer — or at least more supportive.

Shambhala enthusiasts Zoey Ockenden, Isaac Rosenberg and Rachel Hinds decided it was high time to throw a little sexualized violence safety info into the festival that traditionally sees around 1,500 people gather from across the country to rock on countless bands over the first weekend of August. While the festival already offered services of “The Sanctuary,” a quiet retreat for those needing downtime, Ockenden and friends found very few resources for women specifically, and those who experienced any type of sexualized violence. Their remedy: start the Shambhala Sexual Assault Prevention Team — a group of about 25 volunteers — to participate in active walk abouts, staff a Women’s Safe Space tent, as well as a judgment-free harm reduction space.

“As a woman, I saw something lacking at the festival, and I am really excited to be a part of this,” says Ockenden, 21, who says this is her first time working with a harm reduction team. “We wanted to bring visibility to sexual assault at Shambhala, to promote enthusiastically consensual and safe sex [and] offer accessible, inclusive, non-judgmental and non-victim-blaming support and information for all self-identified women who survive sexual assault at Shambhala, or who feel at risk or unsafe in any way.”

The festival is on this year from Aug. 4 to 7. Ockenden and team will be present. See more at shambhalamusicfestival.com.

Big time complications

In festival news a little closer, Cumberland classic The Big Time Out has hit a big time location malfunction. This, with only one week to go before the fest welcomes groups as big as Bedouin Soundclash, Current Swell and Kuba Oms on Aug. 12 and 13.

The festival — now in its seventh year and typically held at central venue Cumberland Village Park — was kiboshed by the Village of Cumberland council and the RCMP over security concerns and after a recent death following a related music event, which left one youth facing murder charges. Since the loss of venue, however, over 600 community members petitioned council, and three councillors called an emergency meeting Tuesday night in response to the outpouring of support.

“I see this as an incredibly hopeful thing,” says Alex Dunae, one of the event’s organizers, who believes the festival will regain its venue. “To go back again after an emergency council meeting would just be unbelievable.”

Organizers have found a smaller emergency venue should the ban stick. Results should be in Wednesday on where music-lovers will be heading.

Bad Karma in the making

Attention generous hearts: the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children has discovered that someone out of Vancouver with a 604 area code is phoning Victoria residents asking for a donation of at least $20 in support of the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children. “Please be advised that the Foundation does not solicit donations by telephone,” says Jennifer Jasechko, vice prez of the foundation. “If you receive a call of this nature, please take all the details you can and contact the foundation.”

Real donations can be made by calling 250-519-6977, or visiting queenalexandra.org. M

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