British Columbia

Vancouver city council approves fees for electric car charging stations

Motorists driving electric vehicles in Vancouver will soon have to pay to use the city's 16 curbside charging stations.

Council also approves pilot program to install more stations for businesses and homeowners

Vancouver city council has approved a pilot project that will start charging motorists for the use of curbside electric-vehicle charging stations. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Motorists driving electric vehicles in Vancouver will soon have to pay to use the city's 16 curbside charging stations.

City council voted in favour of a pilot project Tuesday that would see drivers charged fees for using the stations.

The fees will start at $2 an hour for a slow charge to $16 an hour for a fast charge, in addition to a regular parking meter rate.

The city says the rates work out to an equivalent of about $0.50 per litre of gas.

Fees intended to create turnover

According to a staff report, the city is opting to charge by the hour instead of by units of energy, in order to encourage faster turnover at the charging stations.

Ian Neville, a climate policy analyst with the city, told CBC News yesterday that congestion is the city's biggest challenge with the meters, with people staying at the stations about twice as long as they need to for a full charge.

Coun. Andrea Reimer, who put forward the motion, noted that the city has long intended to start charging fees for the use of the stations and said that the rates could be adjusted, if they're found to be too high or low for the intended outcome.

"Whether or not this is the right amount to be charging is something to be learned through the pilot," Reimer said.

Coun. Melissa de Genova, the only councillor to vote against the motion, expressed concerns that the fees were too steep and could potentially discourage people from buying electric cars — a transition she says the city should be encouraging as part of its environmental goals.

"I find that $16 an hour, especially, is quite a lot of money for someone," de Genova said. "Although they might not be spending it on gas, why should they be paying it to the City of Vancouver?"

More stations to be installed

Council also approved another pilot project that will create 15 new residential charging stations and five new non-residential charging stations.

The city says the new residential stations are intended to address the problem of "garage orphans" — people with no access to off-street parking — installing their own ad hoc curbside charging stations without the city's approval.

Both pilot programs will run for two years.

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