District plugs in to electric car trend

The municipal hall will soon boast a new double-pedestal electric car charging station where visitors can top up their electric vehicles

One of the early adopters of electric vehicles

If you are looking to get plugged in, Oak Bay is the place to be.

The municipal hall will soon boast a new double-pedestal electric car charging station where visitors can top up their electric vehicles while doing business in Oak Bay.

“Encouraging our local residents to consider transportation alternatives that (create) less carbon emissions is essential to the green initiative of this council,” said Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney. “The idea of promoting clean energy is an essential mandate of this council to increase opportunities and initiatives that are able to reduce the carbon footprint.”

While Ney admits the number of electric vehicles currently traversing Oak Bay’s streets is still quite low, she says this initiative is not just to support the handful of vehicles already on the road, but also to encourage residents to make that number grow.

“People are smart, they are not going to commit until the infrastructure exists,” Ney said. “The first piece is to get these stations up and running and use that as a (way) to encourage the uptake of people using electrical vehicles.”

The municipality has already received its charger from AddENERGIE technologies, a double-pedestal, all-weather unit costing approximately $10,000. A provincial grant covered $7,500 of that, a program Oak Bay was the first municipality to both apply, and be approved, for in the province.

The 1.64-metre high unit with two six-metre cables looks like a free-standing parking meter and will be positioned between two stalls accommodating two vehicles, one regular electric vehicle and one smaller, scooter-like vehicle.

A full charge will take approximately four to five hours, as it is not a quick-charging station. The idea is that visitors can use the device to top-up while they do business in Oak Bay, as opposed to using it as their primary charging device. Charging is complimentary but the station can be adapted to a fee-for-service model.

“I think anything that promotes alternate energy is a plus for society in general,” said the municipality’s director of engineering services David Marshall. “The sooner society gets involved in alternate energy and gets away from fossil fuels has to be a good thing.”

He added that it would be premature to speculate how the initiative will expand through the municipality until the first one is installed and further evaluated. If it does prove to be effective and useful, more potential installations along Oak Bay Avenue and in Estevan Village could be considered.

The final location of the installation is yet to be determined, and two potential spots are being considered. One is close to the front entrance on the footpath towards the store next door(can we replace this with a direction please), the other on the west side of the rear parking lot.

Kevin Walker, owner of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, which has two electric vehicles in its fleet, is looking forward to his staff and guests making good use of the new station as soon as it’s ready.

“We recognized 15 years ago that taking care of the environment wasn’t just a good idea, it was good business,” he said. “Transportation is a very important part of what we do. … That is why we started off thinking of smart cars and ended up with an (even) smarter vehicle.”

Oak Bay and Qualicum Beach were the first communities on the Island to allow electric vehicles on the road, and now that Victoria also allows them, he is looking forward to expanding his electric fleet as demand and infrastructure grows.

“We should be, as a community, leading the way in Canada with these zero-emission vehicles,” Walker said. “If you are going to have a green initiative, instead of having a low-emission vehicle, why not go zero? It is a pretty neat feeling to send a car down the road that has zero impact on the environment.”