A conspiracy theorist has hijacked a council meeting in Western Australia, claiming the council are going to “cut off” residents and “put a chip” in their arms in a rant about 15-minute cities.
Jeff Pryce from Carlisle, Perth, delivered an impassioned two-minute speech about 15-minute-cities, which conspiracists believe to be a plot by governments to keep people locked down, during public statement time at a Victoria Park Council meeting on August 15.
“You’re going to shut us down, you’re going to put a chip in our arm, we’re going to move around on a point system, you’re going to take away our cars, they’re all going to be electric so they can always cut your power off whenever they want,” he told the council.
During the rant, Mr Pryce claimed the move towards “smart metres”, “smart water” and “digital money” will allow governments to cut off residents if they step out of line in “anyway shape or form”.
“You will be born in a 15-minute city, you will die in a 15-minute city, along with your families and their kids and their kids.”
He claimed the World Economic Forum and “New World Order” were the masterminds behind the move, which will see all travel come to an end in the next seven years to resctict people’s movement.
“There will be no travel come 2030, no planes, no ships, you will be locked down and shut down, all through climate change … This what they’re bringing in and they’re bringing it in around the world and people [have] got to wake up.”
Mr Pryce concluded his rant by telling councillors they should feel ashamed of themselves, despite the Mayor earlier confirming council has no powers to prohibit people from moving outside the boundaries of the local government area.
“You’re going to lock your own people down and sit at home and feel good about it. Shame on you, shame on you all, how can you sleep,” he said before he was cut off when his allotted two minutes came to an end.
Fifteen-minute cities are part of the wider “Smart City” concept to make cities more liveable by providing residents with basic amenities like shops, parks, cafes, healthcare and schools within a 15-minute radius by bike or foot.
The idea was coined by Franco-Colombian urbanist Carlos Moreno, who argues “our sense of time is warped” because of urban sprawl and advocates more services should be made available closer to where people live.
“We must make urban life more pleasant, agile, healthy, and flexible,” Mr Moreno told Forbesin February.
However, the concept has given rise to conspiracy theories that claim the scheme will restrict residents’ movements and see them fined for leaving their local districts.
Some believe the plan is to restrict movement within their suburb is part of a broader “climate lockdown”.
“You’re going to have to apply for a f***ing permit to leave your zone,” said one TikToker from Britain, where protests were held earlier this year to oppose a 15-minute city proposals in Oxford.
Edmonton, Canada, also experienced kickback this year after experimenting with the idea of making everything more accessible for residents.
“You will spend 90 per cent of your life in this 15-minute area as they are monitoring your carbon footprint,” protesters claimed.
Conspiracy theories and objection to the concept has seen Mr Moreno personally targeted.
“They insult me, call me human trash, Neo-Fascist or a rotten Latino,” he told Forbes.
“Their lies are enormous.”
Associate Professor of International Planning at RMIT Marco Amati said while some scholars criticise 15-minute cities because they may increase inequalities, he believes the benefits outweigh the costs.
“Fifteen-minute cities are one of a number of sensible and cheap interventions available to enable cities to adapt to this new reality.”
He said once people accept change they come to realise the benefits of an improved urban environment. But the initial objection to change provides an opportunity for conspiracy theories.
“The key question for policy makers therefore is one of time: Can a positive urban intervention be protected for long enough so that people feel it is an improvement and therefore support it, before a conspiracy theory arises to debunk it?”
Despite the recent spotlight on the concept, Urbanist and Vancouver’s former chief planner Brent Toderian told theABC 15-minute cities used to be the norm.
“They were called good neighbourhoods — where you didn’t have to get into a car for everything,” he told the publication.
Mr Toderian said there are “many public interest reasons” for 15-minute cities including a lower carbon footprint.
“It’s a powerful climate change mitigation tool … It promotes urban health and thus promotes the actual reduction of public health costs … It promotes individual affordability and household affordability because you don’t need to own the second car or maybe even the third car.”
“It’s kind of a no-brainer.”