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Public EV charging stations in Sidney would no longer be free under CRD network plans

Regional network plan would replace four existing locations and add two new ones
Sidney council has unanimously agreed to support plans for a regional EV charging network that would raise the available number of public charging stations by two to six. Current plans also call for the CRD to start charging money for their use. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney residents with electric vehicles could charge their rides at two new public locations, should the Capital Regional District secure a grant from senior government to build a charging network.

District staff said many details remain to be sorted, including the question of who pays for the electricity used at the stations, with residents possibly on the hook for using them. Sidney currently does not charge for the use of public EV charging stations.

Chief administrative officer Randy Humble said last week it is too early to tell when the chargers would be in place.

The municipality currently pays for the electricity at the existing EV chargers.

“It is anticipated that the CRD would own and maintain the new changing stations, which could have a user charge,” he said.

A move toward a user charge would be in line with changes to the use of the fast charger that BC Hydro owns and operates at a downtown Sidney parking lot, which originally was free.

Nikki Elliott, the CRD’s manager of climate action programs, said the it has not yet determined future rates. “The CRD will be working with municipal partners to set charging rates,” she said. “(The) aim is to be as consistent as possible.”

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With a projected cost of up to $9 million, the proposed network envisions the installation of almost 600 charging ports across about 70 sites in Greater Victoria. Six locations are proposed in Sidney, including four that would replace existing charging locations at Tulista Park, Iroquois Park, at Third and Bevan Street and the municipal hall, which are reaching the end of their 10-year lifespan.

The two new locations would be at a parking lot for downtown employees near the Community Safety Building and at the CRD-owned Greenglade Community Centre.

The Saanich Peninsula has one of the highest per-capita ownership rates for electric vehicles. A 2020 survey found that of 8,300 licensed vehicles in Sidney (population 12,279), 170 were hybrids and 110 full EVs. The corresponding figure for Central Saanich (pop. 17,385) were 350 hybrids and 320 full EVs out of 18,000 licensed vehicles, while North Saanich (pop. 12,235) had 290 hybrids and 270 full EVs among 11,000 licensed vehicles.

Sidney council unanimously agreed to support the grant application byt the CRD, which does not expect to receive a decision on the funding until next year.

“If this grant application is successful, procurement would begin in late 2023 and the CRD envisions the bulk of installations will occur in 2024 and 2025,” Elliott said. “The grant specifies that all stations must be operational by January 2027.”

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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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