City wants to put up 10 electric car charging stations

City staff are recommending council approve the installation of up to 10 electric vehicle charging stations

City staff are recommending council approve the installation of up to 10 electric vehicle charging stations.

The city recently secured $40,000 from the provincial Community Charging Infrastructure Fund to install charging stations throughout the community.

Funding criteria requires the city to have the stations installed by March 31, 2013.

Proposed locations include two at city hall, two at Tyee Plaza, two at the Dogwood Operations Centre, two at Strathcona Gardens and two at North Island College/Timberline Secondary School.

The city partnered with the Pembina Institute to secure funding for the charging stations and to conduct an 18-member stakeholder workshop which introduced participants to electric vehicles and infrastructure requirements, said Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s sustainability manager.

Zirnhelt said a Request for Proposals for the charging stations has already been issued and is being evaluated by city staff which will be able to award a contract for the project as early as this month, with installation beginning in January.

Zirnhelt said the charging stations would initially be free of charge to use, but then re-assessed after five years.

“Workshop stakeholders recommend initially the city not charge a fee for electric vehicle charging as the administration cost of charging would out weigh the cost for electricity use, and benefits of supporting electric vehicles,” Zirnhelt said.

It’s estimated that an average charge (30 minutes to one hour) would cost approximately $0.50 to $1.

Council approved the use of electric, or low speed vehicles, earlier this year despite concerns from the RCMP.

“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,” said Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, who relayed the RCMP’s problems with the vehicles.

The vehicles cannot exceed 40 kilometres per hour because they lack safety features such as air bags, ABS, and shock absorbent body panels.

And that has caused concern for even Transport Canada. According to its website, “Transport Canada does not encourage the use of LSVs (low speed vehicles) on public roads, since they are not required to provide the same level of safety as mainstream vehicles.”

But Stanley Elliott, owner of Campbell River Electric Wheels, lobbied council to approve the use of electric vehicles on city roads because of the environmental benefits.

“These cars will reduce the city’s carbon footprint dramatically,” Elliott said during a council presentation in September 2011.

“There’s a large amount of driving that can be done and it will save people a boatload of money.”

Zirnhelt said building the charging stations in Campbell River will advance the city’s progress to be carbon neutral as a signatory to the BC Climate Action Charter and will help the city demonstrate leadership in climate action and community greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Electric vehicle charging stations already exist in Nanaimo, Parksville, the Comox Valley, Qualicum, Colwood, Fort St. John, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Gibsons and Dawson Creek.

The charging stations were up for debate at Tuesday’s city council meeting after the Mirror went to press.