Burns Lake might receive a new replacement for its electric vehicle (EV) charge station.
The village council agreed in its Feb. 12 meeting to contribute up to $5,000 towards a Community Energy Association (CEA) grant for a new EV charger. The CEA would apply on behalf of the village.
Those funds would come out of the village’s Climate Action Reserve, and not out of its general revenue, said Chief Administrative Officer Sheryl Worthing.
In discussing the move, some council members acknowledged how rarely the EV station is used and wondered if paying to replace it would be a sensible investment.
The station was installed in 2013 and funded with a $30,000 grant from Lakes District Maintenance, B.C. Hydro, Plug In B.C. and the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program.
Councilor Charlie Rensby said the $5,000 contribution seems like a lot to pay for something that is barely used. However, he and other council members agreed it would be better to have a functional charge station rather than not having one at all, and would give passing motorists with electric vehicles another reason to stop in the village.
Mayor Dolores Funk pointed out that contributing to the grant would help Burns Lake align itself with the provincial government’s Clean BC initiative, which aims by 2040 to have only zero-emissions vehicles sold in the province.
“I think with the new goals that the government has set, I don’t know if we want to pass up the opportunity for funding,” she said.
Maintenance costs for the EV station are already paid through a warranty, and once the new unit is installed its maintenance would also be covered by the CEA grant, said Economic Development Officer Val Anderson.
It was not yet known when approval for the grant would come through.
The City of Quesnel recently agreed to apply to the CEA for a grant to help it install two EV stations at its Visitor Information Centre this year.
EV ownership in northern B.C. is relatively low and only 7 per cent of dealerships in this region sell the vehicles, according to a report released last October by Clean Energy Canada.
That contrasts with the situation further south, where 43 per cent of dealerships on Vancouver Island and on the Sunshine Coast sell EVs, and 54 per cent on the Lower Mainland.
Of the more than 1,000 charge stations in B.C, a map on the website PlugInBC shows there are only about two dozen stations from Williams Lake north to Prince George, and west to Kitimat.
B.C. is a leading province for EV adoption, but the zero-emission automobiles represented only 1.1 per cent of vehicle sales across Canada in 2017.
– With files from Tom Fletcher