Building about 100 new public charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) this year will ignite the City of Victoria’s vision of supporting less carbon-intensive travel by the decade’s end.
The city adopted the Electric Vehicle and Electric Mobility Strategy last month and aims to have 30 per cent of passenger vehicles be electric by 2030.
The strategy commends the region for already leading the country in EV adoption, but says significant barriers remain in boosting uptake. With 80 per cent of Victorians living in multi-family homes, the strategy poses the key question of where will people plug in and charge their vehicles?
The city plans to spend $8.5 million between 2022 and 2027 on expanding the EV charging network, with 650 new public stations, including 33 fast-charging ports (100 kilometres per 30-minute charge). Senior government funding is expected to account for half of that price tag.
About 95 per cent of those new stations would be Level 2 chargers, which can power a 30-km trip with an hour-long jolt, according to BC Hydro. That might be too long for some, but the strategy said a key asset is that chargers can be anywhere – the goal is to have them available at home, work and in public spaces.
A total of $1.27 million over the next four years will be used to add 5,280 electrified parking stalls to buildings. Those retrofits are projected to significantly ramp up in the second half of the decade. Victoria has also mandated that all new developments include charging capacity.
The city hopes a rapidly expanded public charging network will accelerate the transition by making EVs more accessible to those who lack the home-charging option. The city’s 2022 draft budget says private charging station growth won’t meet demand in the coming years, based on the current rate people are switching over to EVs.
Just over half of Victoria’s electric vehicle owners lived in a single-family home in 2020. That year, 13 per cent of the city’s new vehicles hitting the road were electric.
The strategy also says the city should budget $2.1 million over four years to support the burgeoning use of electric bikes, scooters, skateboards, wheelchairs and other modes of transportation.
The strategy promotes the EV shift as a way to help to cut the city’s largest emissions source – transportation – but also as a way to improve the overall urban environment. That would come from improved air quality, from reduced tailpipe exhaust, and from EVs’ relatively silent drivetrains dampening noise pollution.
It also says residents can benefit financially as EVs have less operation and maintenance costs than their internal combustion counterparts. But the upfront cost of EVs remains a barrier, it notes, especially with a smaller pool of used EVs available.
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