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Commercial centres in Central Saanich could get support for EV charging stations

Motion by Mayor Ryan Windsor seeks to improve electric vehicle infrastructure
A motion by Mayor Ryan Windsor coming before council Dec. 6 calls on staff to examine ways for the municipality to incentivize the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at existing commercial centres in Central Saanich. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Central Saanich has one of the highest rates of electric-car ownership in British Columbia and Mayor Ryan Windsor would like to see more charging stations in commercial centres across the municipality.

While the district’s climate leadership plan sees widespread use of electric vehicles as one means toward meeting its carbon emissions goals, it can neither force residents to buy them nor shape their price tag and supply, Windsor said.

But the municipality has other levers, he added.

“Hey, ‘what is going to make it a little bit more comfortable (to purchase an EV)?’ What we could see is more charging infrastructure in public places.”

Central Saanich has addressed this by requiring EV infrastructure to be part of new multi-family residential buildings, Windsor said, and has looked at it for single-family homes.

The circumstances are more complex when it comes to commercial spaces. Much of the municipality’s commercial space is already established, with only modest additions over time, he said.

“Normally we would say, if you are proposing a new development, one of the things we are going to require is for you to (include a charging station). But we have these existing developments. How we can move them along?”

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Accordingly, Windsor tabled a notice of motion that calls on staff to examine options consistent with the Community Charter for the municipality to incentivize existing commercial centres to install level 2 and/or level 3 electric vehicle charging stations.

Such measures might have a negative revenue impact on the (municipality) for a year or two, but ultimately bring long-term benefits.

“Let’s pick Thrifty (Foods) in Saanichton,” he said. “Thrifty gets bit of a tax break for a year, it might cost us $7,500 or $10,000 in taxes for a year, but then there is an EV charger,” he said. “And that is kind of permanent.”

Central Saanich does not enough charging stations in public areas, he said, “yet we have all these public-commercial spaces where there is an opportunity.”

Council is set to debate Windsor’s notice of motion Monday (Dec. 6). More broadly, the motion is in line with appeals from Victoria Electric Vehicle Association to improve the local charging network.

A Capital Regional District report completed in partnership with Dunsky Energy Consulting stated it would cost $31 million to build the necessary charging infrastructure to help the region meet its goals by 2030 – that is, to have 25 per cent of all local vehicles be electric.

Current trendlines, however, project that only 11 per cent of the region’s total light-duty vehicles will be electric by then.

That said, Saanich Peninsula residents are among the leaders in the CRD in the use of electric vehicles. The Victoria Electric Vehicle Association’s 2020 figures show Sidney and Central Saanich rank second and third in terms of EV ownership per 1,000 residents with 14 EVs and 13 EVs, respectively, behind Salt Spring Island’s 21.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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