Building fast EV charging stations across Saskatchewan should be a priority, says advocate

Electric vehicles are slowly making inroads in Saskatchewan, yet the infrastructure to support them still needs a major boost.

SaskPower, feds will soon award hundreds of thousands in funding to 20 Sask. centres for chargers

Twenty communities will get money from SaskPower and the federal government to install EV fast chargers. (Lukas Wall/CBC)

Electric vehicles (EVs) are slowly making inroads in Saskatchewan, yet the infrastructure to support them still needs a major boost.

"We're looking to expand into more rural areas and secondary highways so that we can truly cover the province of Saskatchewan as a whole," said Matt Pointer, founder and president of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA).

"We have a relatively small population and a relatively large geographical area," Pointer said. "So we do have our work cut out for us in order to increase the accessibility of those fast chargers to make those long distance trips a little bit easier for folks that are off the beaten path."

He said there have been investments from the federal government and companies such as Tesla, Federated Co-op and Petro Canada over the past few years to build charging stations, but mostly along the Trans-Canada highway and a few other major arteries.

Pointer sais it's time to start building east-west and north-south corridors.

"A large amount of electric pickup trucks will be hitting the market over the next three to five years," he said. 

"There's a lot of people that exclusively drive pickup trucks because their operation basically requires it. So we're hoping to get into those smaller centres with those fast chargers and along those secondary highways that would directly benefit those folks."

Electric vehicle charging stations in Saskatchewan. (

According to Statistics Canada, EVs accounted for 5.2 per cent of all vehicle registration in Canada in 2021.

SaskPower's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which is supported by Natural Resources Canada's Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program, will soon announce 20 communities that will be awarded up to $200,000 to install fast chargers.

"Each one of those spots will have at least two fast chargers at it,' said SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor.

McGregor said location was part of the criteria for which communities were awarded funding.

An electric vehicle charging station in Ile-à-la-Crosse, Sask. (Submitted by Duane Favel)

Pointer said costs around public fast charging stations are still a barrier. But he said that is starting to change as businesses see benefits from having charging stations.

He said the technology is rapidly expanding, so charging an EV is taking less and less time.

"The newer technology coming out in the vehicles today basically will allow an average vehicle to charge in anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes [with a DC charger that speeds up the charging process]."

Pointer said those fast chargers are really only needed for those travelling long distances. He said 95 per cent of the time EVs are charged at home.

"There's lots of people that plug in [their EV] at the same plug that they might plug in their iPhone at the end of the day," Pointer said.

"The great thing with an EV is there's electricity virtually everywhere and so it's just a matter of tapping into that."

McGregor said SaskPower is already planning for a future with many more EVs by conducting regular studies and partnering with other organizations to look at the charging landscape in Saskatchewan.

"With an increased electrification across all sectors not just transportation, there is a need for more power generally speaking and that is something that we are also working on," McGregor said.

Red and blue cars in the parking lot outside a white dealership building.
According to Statistics Canada, electric vehicle registration accounted for 5.2 per cent of all vehicle registration in Canada in 2021. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)

Pointer said another change he'd like to see is for every new house, condo or multiple dwelling to have the wiring for an EV charger roughed in, even if a charger isn't installed at the time.

"The cost of building that charging infrastructure in afterwards is about four to five times as expensive," he said.

Someone plugs a charging cable into an electric vehicle.
A Level 2 station will provide an 80 per cent charge in a matter of hours, while a Level 3 fast charging station provides that in 30 minutes. (CBC)

Pointer said one of the myths about owning an EV is that it is very expensive to install chargers at home. He said basic charger infrastructure can be as little as $500 to $1,000.

"The fuel savings alone from driving that electric will more than pay for the cost of installing that charger."

Pointer said EVs will help the economy, as jobs will be created as the charging infrastructure build-out ramps up.

"Saskatchewan could be a leader as far as battery minerals go," he said. "We've got a world class supply of a lot of different things here in Saskatchewan … lithium, cobalt, nickel and other battery minerals that could be a really big boost to our economy.

"We need to embrace this and get behind it if we're going to have a nice smooth transition and not something that's really jerky and and really tough to manage at the very end."


Scott Larson works for CBC News in Saskatoon.

With files from Dayne Patterson


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