Campbell River city council has agreed to implement a fee-for-use system for the city’s electric vehicle charging stations, in a move intended to increase user turnover.
The city currently operates three charging stations, located at City Hall, the Dogwood Operations Centre, and the Visitor Information Centre.
Charging at these sites is free and has no time limit. As a result of this, there have been complaints that some users are parking there for longer than necessary, including overnight or even days at a time.
The intention of a move to fee-for-use change is to encourage more turnaround at the stations, to make them available to more drivers, both locals and visitors. This solution was proposed because enforcing a parking time limit at the stations was deemed unfeasible.
On Oct. 4, city council unanimously passed a motion to implement a fee-for-use system of 30 minutes of free charging followed by a charge of $2 per hour.
The new fees will help the city recover some of the costs of operating the stations. While the purchase of the three municipally-owned charging stations was funded through external sources, the stations cost about $12,000 per year, considering electricity use and depreciation.
A prior motion that would see charges incurred after two hours of charging was defeated 4-3, with Mayor Andy Adams and Councillors Kermit Dahl, Ron Kerr, and Sean Smyth voting in opposition. Under this model, the city would generate about $10,400 in revenue per year, meaning the stations would result in a $1,600 deficit.
Several councillors voiced opposition to the city subsidizing electric vehicle charging.
“You bought an electric vehicle, you pay to charge your battery,” said Dahl. “I don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s electric battery.”
A revenue estimate for the selected fee system (charging $2 a hour after 30 minutes) was not presented, but Kerr said this rate is the “bare minimum.”
“I certainly don’t think we should be subsidizing somebody that’s a vehicle driver that’s already, as far as I’m concerned, getting very inexpensive fuel,” he said.
Council’s decision follows other municipalities on Vancouver Island have made to increasing demand for charging infrastructure. For example, Victoria charges regular parking fees for its stations, while Comox charges $1 per hour for the first two hours and $2 per hour thereafter.
The city’s new charging protocol will be implemented with the unveiling of a fourth city-owned changing station at the Sportsplex in Willow Point sometime in the next year. The city’s charging system features software that can control access, set pricing, collect fees and send user notifications, meaning the change may be adopted without new infrastructure.