Corinna Favaro was excited to use the newly-installed electric vehicle charging stations at the Avalon Mall in St. John's, but when she pulled up to the spots they were already taken by gas-only vehicles.

"On Saturday it was very busy at the mall, and I think people just saw that there was a spot free and maybe they even think that there aren't that many electric vehicles out on the road," Favaro told CBC Radio's On the Go.

"So they see a spot open and they think … 'what are the chances that someone's going to sneak in behind me and try and use this spot,' [so] they might just go for the easy steal." 

Corinna and Brett Favaro

Corinna Favaro and her husband, Brett Favaro, have seen gas-only cars park in charging stations a few times in the province. (Submitted by Corinna Favaro)

Favaro said this isn't the first time she's run into this issue.

"The first time this happened was in Marystown when my husband and I drove down to check out some of the new charging stations there, and the second time this happened to us was at the parking garage downtown on Water Street. So, unfortunately, it wasn't as surprising as you'd think."

The charging stations are in the parking garage at the Avalon Mall. Favaro said when electric-vehicle owners learn of a new station, they are quick to try them out. 

"We get really excited. We go out and we try to use them. So that's what I tried to do on Saturday," she said.

"I know at least two other people that have also responded to my tweet that tried to do the same and they were met with the same experience. They went to the Avalon Mall, they tried to use the spot, and then they were occupied already."

Electric vehicle charging station

The newly-installed electric vehivle charging stations are in the Avalon Mall's parking garage. Favaro says the spots could also be painted bright green to stand out. (Corinna Favaro)

Green Rock E.V.S. installed the charging stations at the mall. President John Gordon said Favaro's experience happens a lot.

"The term that we use for that is getting iced. It's a reference to the internal combustion engine," he said.

"I don't think there's enough education here, especially in the province, or enough awareness on electric vehicles and how much those spaces are needed for electric vehicles."

Gordon said the mall has done an amazing job with putting a mural in the background to show people the spots are for electric vehicles. 

"It does say 'electric vehicle parking only while charging,' so you'd think that would be clear enough," for people not to park there, Favaro said.

John Gordon

John Gordon is the president of Green Rock EVS, an electric vehcile dealer and service centre. (Green Rock EVS)

Gordon said the City of Mount Pearl will ticket cars parked in spaces dedicated for electric vehicles, and that he has spoken to St. John's city councillors about carrying that practice into the capital city as well. 

Favaro said she thinks education will help solve the problem, because people may not know what electric cars are or that they need to charge.

Handing out warnings and fines could also help, she said.

"Another thing that I think they could do is actually paint the ground in the spots green, bright green," she said.

"I've seen that before and that can be a very eye-catching visual that could remind people, because maybe they just didn't see the sign."

With files from On the Go