Winnipeg councillors amped up enough to look into building electric car charging stations

The City of Winnipeg is taking baby steps toward the idea of installing a network of quick-charging stations for electric cars after Coun. Russ Wyatt pushed for their "immediate" construction.

Committee balks at Wyatt motion to build network 'immediately' but decides idea worth studying

Ontario has installed a network of electric car chargers. Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt wants the devices in Winnipeg 'immediately.' (Oliver Walters/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg is taking baby steps toward installing a network of quick-charge stations for electric cars.​

Council's public works committee voted Tuesday to give city staff a month to find out what sources of external funding exist to build stations where drivers can charge their electric vehicles.

The move was in response to Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt's motion to develop a network of quick-charge stations "immediately" in order to qualify for federal funding earmarked for electric vehicles.

Public works chair Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge) said the city doesn't have enough information about quick-charge stations to proceed with this plan right now. But the idea is worth exploring, he said following a presentation by Robert Elms, the president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association.

Elms said there are more than 100 fully electric vehicles in Winnipeg and most owners power up their cars at home.

"Electric vehicles do cost more to buy up front, but members who own them find within a few years they've saved several thousand dollars in fuel expenses and also maintenance costs. What's stopping people now … is we need those charging stations," Elms said.

There is a single quick-charge station at Red River College's Notre Dame Avenue campus. Winnipeg could use five more quick-charge stations, which would cost $30,000 to $40,000 to build, he estimated, suggesting this could be done through some form of public-private partnership.

Morantz said council's innovation committee could better explore that idea. The public works committee voted to send Wyatt's motion back to council so it can be referred to the innovation committee in June.