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Build more EV chargers and electricity will come, RD board hopes

The Strathcona Regional District wants to see more electric vehicle charging stations north and south of Campbell River, and is willing to work with private companies to get them installed.

However Gerald Whalley, regional director for the Kyuquot-Nootka region, doesn’t think there’s enough power generation in BC to meet provincial targets for only all-electric new vehicles to be sold by 2035.

“I don’t think our hydro grid is capable of servicing the stations the government has planned,” he said at the district’s April 24 board meeting. “Across BC, I would expect that if we end up with a change of provincial government, or federal government, that these will swiftly change, the agenda will collapse, and therefore I’m opposed.”

Tahsis director Martin Davis shared Whalley’s concerns about the power grid, but said he’s hopeful BC Hydro will be able to increase the power supply to meet growing demand. He says he wants to see more chargers in remote communities to encourage tourists with EVs.

Kermit Dahl, representing Campbell River, suggested the district consider working with BC Hydro as well as private companies such as Flo and Chargepoint, which have installed pay-for-use chargers in Campbell River. He said it’s an opportunity for local governments to make a bit of money back — the city gets a portion of revenue collected by the companies, which BC Hydro does not offer.

It’s also more fair, he said, pointing out that he has a fully electric car, but doesn’t expect taxpayers to subsidize his fuel costs.

“I also drive a truck, and nobody buys fuel for my truck, so I don’t know why you would want to buy electricity for my car,” he said.

He pointed out the private company chargers provide the first 30 minutes for free.

The board voted in favour of working with BC Hydro and independent providers to install more chargers, as long as there’s no additional cost to regional taxpayers. Regional district staff will now investigate options to get more stations built, and apply for a new round of senior government grant funding expected for EV projects this year.

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