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City of Campbell River on the road to accepting electric cars

The city is paving the way for electric vehicles on city roads

The city is paving the way for electric vehicles.

City council gave first three readings last week to a bylaw that, if adopted, will allow Campbell Riverites to drive electric vehicles on city streets.

The cars, also known as Neighbourhood Zero Emission Vehicles, are touted as environmentally friendly for their low emissions output. Instead of running on gas, the cars are battery-powered and compact.

Stanley Elliott, the president of Campbell River Electric Wheels, brought the vehicles to council’s attention last September. At the time, he had just received a brand-new electric car that he was itching to sell.

But there was a road block in Elliott’s way – the cars aren’t legally allowed on Campbell River roads.

Elliott sold council on the benefits of a bylaw similar to ones already in place in Tofino, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Qualicum Beach.

“These cars will reduce the city’s carbon footprint dramatically,” Elliott said. “There’s a large amount of driving that can be done and it will save people a boatload of money.”

City staff agreed with Elliott, but not without some reservations.

Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, acknowledged that Neighbourhood Zero Emission Vehicles can not exceed 40 kilometres per hour as they lack safety features such as air bags, ABS, and shock absorbent body panels.

Hadfield said the Island communities that allow the vehicles indicated they were only aware of one or two vehicles in their respective communities and that they had not posed any problems.

Still, Hadfield said the RCMP had some concerns.

“The concern locally is that these vehicles may disrupt the flow of traffic in the community and cause complaints to the RCMP and city hall related to their inability to travel at the posted speed limit,” Hadfield said in a report to council.

However, Hadfield noted the proposed bylaw restricts those vehicles to roads that have a speed limit of 50 kilometres or less.

“This would limit the vehicles to the central part of the community and would restrict them from crossing or travel on any provincial highways as the bylaw would only be in effect for roadways within the care and control of the city,” he said.

Instead of filling up at the pumps, the car’s battery is set on a charger for around six hours.

Elliott said one charge, in ideal conditions, can last for 76 kilometres.

If the car is travelling up a lot of hills or is driven in cold weather, the temperature of the battery changes and the charge will last for 46 kilometres.

The battery can last anywhere between four and eight years, according to Elliott.

Coun. Ron Kerr said it was his “pleasure to make the motion” to give first three readings to the bylaw which was passed by council.

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