The Regional District of Nanaimo board wants to take charge in an application for 10 electric car charging stations for the mid Island.
Following a Community Energy Association presentation at their last board meeting, directors voted to be lead applicant on behalf of numerous mid-Island municipalities and regional districts for the Clean B.C. Communities Fund, which provides provincial government cost-sharing for green infrastructure projects. As part of the motion, 10 public charging stations (to a maximum $60,000) would be placed at RDN properties.
The RDN also penned a letter of support for the association’s Emotive Community Outreach Incentive Program application (to raise awareness of electric vehicles) as part of the motion, which could provide up to $30,000.
There is a March 27 application deadline and director Ben Geselbracht introduced the motion. Ian Thorpe, RDN board chairman, and director Jim Turley voiced dissent.
Geselbracht said there is a “definite need of this type of infrastructure,” and the association is offering to “do a majority of heavy lifting on this project.”
”We also have government funding that will support, not only 73 per cent of the infrastructure cost, we also have another $30,000 … to market this type of initiative to the community and so I think that from our discussions from our strategic planning, that this initiative provides an opportunity right out of this gate for this new council to make a really clear statement to the community that we’re taking sustainability serious,” said Geselbracht.
Geselbracht said there could be an economic development boon with electric vehicle tourism. He envisions families disembarking from the ferry and stopping to charge and grabbing a coffee before heading to their next stop.
Turley asked about costs and Geselbracht said installing a level 2 charging station would cost between $12,000-16,000, and the amount required from the municipality would be between $2,000-4,000.
“Part of the process is with the Community Energy Association, in relation with the districts here, would identify where the most opportune spots to locate these … so people can travel through the region and not worry about running out of charge,” said Geselbracht. “That would come back to council to decide if we want to go with the full amount they want, or I think we can choose whatever we agree we’re comfortable with.”
Phyllis Carlyle, RDN CAO, said there wasn’t money in the 2019 budget for this and it would have to be reallocated. The board decided not to charge for usage for the time being.
Thorpe said he supports more charging stations, but it wasn’t an example of good governance. He said there were a lot of unanswered questions, including locations and where money comes from.
“We have dealt with none of those, except at an ad hoc basis in the last hour and that to me is unsatisfactory business, so although I do support a notion of electric charging stations, I’m not going to support this as a matter of principle,” said Thorpe. “I would hope, and I would expect that we would have opportunities in the future to have other grant applications and react to them in a more thoughtful and reasoned way without pressure of time limit that’s forcing us to make a decision.”