The drive to Prince Rupert from Kamloops takes approximately four days in an electric vehicle, but a new planning committee wants to make that trip faster and easier.
From Haida Gwaii to Kamloops, five regional districts have invested thousands in a planning committee to design a northern charging station network.
“We want to plan out the network so you can drive from Kamloops to say Haida Gwaii or Prince Rupert or vice versa, and along the way, there’s a massive network of places to plug in so you can actually make it there in a timely fashion,” Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain said. “Currently, you essentially can’t get up to the north with an electric vehicle.”
Brain is one of the regional district representatives on the Electric Vehicle Highway 16/97 advisory council. Their first meeting was held on June 5.
“What this can do for the north is not only increase economic opportunities but also tourism opportunities as well as new transportation options,” Brain said, offering examples such as electric buses.
“We need to set the infrastructure up first to allow this to emerge. A kind of build it and they will come type of philosophy.”
With the help of the Community Energy Association, which has worked on a similar project called Accelerate Kootenays, the advisory council expects to work on the network plan for 20 months. They will decide where the charging stations should go, how they’ll be maintained and who will service them.
Different kinds of chargers are necessary depending on the model of electric vehicle. Some can travel as far as 400 kilometres on a charge, while others can only go as far as 100 kilometres.
Once the stations are in place, car dealerships in the north would be able to provide more service to electric vehicles and the demand could increase, the Mayor of Prince Rupert said.
The network would also have positive environmental impacts, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Because most of the power in B.C. is hydro, it is a super efficient way for us to start to shift off of fossil fuels,” Brain said.
The planning process may be done by the end of 2019, with implementation between 2020 and 2022. Brain will present the 2030 sustainable city policies at the June 11 city council meeting, which has been in progress since 2015. The electric vehicle network is part of the policy he will present on Monday.