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Pitch made for plug-in vehicle power in Victoria

This public electric vehicle quick-charge station is located in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. - Don Denton/News staff
This public electric vehicle quick-charge station is located in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
— image credit: Don Denton/News staff

Victoria needs to take advantage of new provincial money earmarked for electric-vehicle charging stations, says an advocate for the low-emission technology.

“If the City of Victoria wants to encourage more electric vehicles, then the city needs more charging stations,” said Cam Rawlinson, founding member of the Islands chapter of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association.

Creating more stations would help promote the vehicles, he said, noting that similar facilities could be set up for users of electric bikes or mobility scooters.

“These are all options that allow an aging population to become mobile and not to pollute,” he said. “The city right now probably has one-tenth of the necessary stations in order to encourage people to adopt electricity as an alternate fuel to gasoline.”

The province is currently seeking a private administrator to manage a $2.7-million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund.

Municipal, regional and First Nations governments and institutions will be invited to apply for money to install charging stations until March 31, 2013.

“It will take considerable time and strong policies to bring new clean-energy vehicles … into the mainstream market,” read the Ministry of Environment’s request for proposals, which closed last week.

“Appropriate government incentives and initial investment in charging/fuelling infrastructure will be instrumental in catalyzing the market.”

Provincial funds will be distributed for 300 charging stations rated as Level 2.

Those outlets dispense a similar amount of energy to a dryer outlet, but look more like a gasoline fuelling station.

Within city limits, there are currently only three Level 2 charging stations, all of which are attached to hotels or condos, Rawlinson said.

The Islands chapter of the electric vehicle association, which had its first meeting on Jan. 15, has grown to 53 members, 26 of whom live in Greater Victoria.

While most members are interested in electric cars, Rawlinson said, his interest is in bicycles.

He hopes to see the city invest in Level 1 charging stations, better suited for smaller, slower electric vehicles that require less power. These charging units resemble a standard wall plug-in, called a T-plug.

“There are many of those spread all over,” he said. “They tend to be undocumented.”

Canadian Tire, for instance, has many in their parking lots.

Rawlinson made his pitch about his association and the provincial funding to Victoria’s environment and infrastructure committee on Thursday.

Coun. Geoff Young questioned the notion of free charging stations.

“I can see giving a subsidy at this early stage, but when they become common, there is clearly no justification for giving free power (to the owners of electric cars),” Young wrote in an email to the News.

“At this point, besides the small numbers of expensive cars, I suspect we will be subsidizing the electric-assist pedicabs and electric bicycles.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

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