WWF-Canada Blog:

Charging up in BC

Written by Charlotte Argue, Fraser Basin Council

One year ago, electric vehicle drivers in British Columbia would have been hard pressed to find a public charging station to top up their battery. Today, they have access to nearly 500 electric vehicle charging stations located throughout the province.

CCI Final Stations

Community Charging Infrastructure Fund Stations

What has happened in the last year to explain the explosion of charging infrastructure? Much had to do with the Community Charging Infrastructure Fund, a provincial program where local businesses, municipalities, and other organizations could apply to receive funding to support the purchase and installation of charging stations. An amazing number of organizations and businesses rose to the challenge: from local coffee shops and restaurants, to hospitals, community centres, and shopping malls, the diversity of the participants was impressive. These community leaders are all taking up the “green” mantle by supporting the quickly growing electric car industry. By offering vehicle charging, often free to use, they’re attracting new customers, and showing their commitment to a cleaner air shed and more stable climate.

Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre © Charlotte Argue

Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre © Charlotte Argue

Of course, leading the way has its challenges – from choosing the right station, to managing parking demand – and participants in the program are meeting the speed bumps head-on. This is all part of the learning curve, and thankfully there’s ‘amp’le help and support from electric car owners and the community at large.

Salt Spring's Bridge to Tomorrow © Charlotte Argue

Salt Spring’s Bridge to Tomorrow © Charlotte Argue

Through the provincial Clean Energy Vehicle Program, there is also support for residential and fast-charging stations to fill in the critical infrastructure needed for drivers. Additionally, consumers can get up to $5,000 off the cost of an electric car if they buy before March 31, 2014. In these early days for the electric car, government incentives and policy change are essential to encourage large-scale uptake. Continued support across Canada will help solidify electric cars as an important component of a lower carbon future.

Charlotte Argue manages Fraser Basin Council’s green transportation and fleet programs, and administrated the Community Charging Infrastructure Fund.  Fraser Basin Council is a non-profit organization that supports sustainability in BC.