Metro Vancouver - in partnership with 14 Lower Mainland municipalities, including the cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody - has been given the green light to begin developing a network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
The $75,000 grant will go toward pursuing private and public sector commitment to host the charging stations and to identify 75 to 150 sites for the electric vehicle chargers.
It's still too early to confirm any official local sites where the stations could be set up, but according to PoCo Mayor Greg Moore, the goal is to have them installed at visible and accessible sites such as malls, theatres and tourism destinations.
While the pilot project is still in the early stages, many Tri-Cities councillors have been in favour of the notion for several months.
"It's a positive step to plan for potential increased use of electric vehicles," said Port Coquitlam Coun. Brad West, noting there is not an immediate demand for the stations, but it's something to consider for the future.
However, not everyone is 100-per-cent sold on the idea of electric charging stations.
Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay argued that users should be charged per use.
"Why would we charge people's cars for free? If we're spending taxpayer money to service the (five) electric cars that are currently in the Tri-Cities, I wish I was one of the five - nobody pays for my gas," he said, noting there are only five electric vehicles registered with ICBC in the Tri-Cities.
Coun. Diana Dilworth echoed his assertions. "In the future, if there is a demonstrated demand to do it, I can see doing it then," she added. "The city is taking advantage of grant money that's available - but let's be smart about it."
The costs to build the stations will be split between site hosts and the province as part of the $2.74-million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund that will see 570 EV stations built in publicly accessible locations around B.C. by March 31, 2013. Seventy-five per cent of equipment and labour costs will be covered under the fund to a maximum of $4,000 per station, while local municipalities will incur the remaining costs.
The stations will reportedly save 30,000 litres of gas and $42,000 every year.