Sidney could start charging for the use of its four public EV charging stations after council tasked staff to develop a (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney considers turning over public charging stations to private company

Councillor questions wisdom of charging for charging

Sidney could start tapping into the wallets of electric vehicle owners for using local charging stations and one councillor fears this move could short-cut the fight against climate change.

Tuesday night, council tasked staff to prepare a request for expressions of interest (REOI) from third parties concerning the future of Sidney’s local charging network for electric vehicles, a move that could conclude with EV owners paying to charge up.

(Sidney operates four Level 2 public charging stations at its town hall, Parking Lot F (Third and Bevan), Tulista Park and Iroquois Park. BC Hydro also operates a fast-charging Level 3 station at Bevan and Seventh. Sidney does not have records for EV stations on private property.)

“Moving forward, if we are looking at a REOI, my suggestion would be that council should at least be comfortable with the idea of possibly charging some amount for the use of an EV charging station,” said Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer during Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe had earlier expressed reservations about this very possibility. How will charging for the use of EV stations impact Sidney’s climate change goals, she asked in sketching out a possibility whereby owners of EVs could end up paying what amounts to a parking fee to charge their vehicles, while owners of gasoline vehicles would pay nothing. Sidney, she said later, should first settle the question of whether it wants to start charging EV owners in calling for more research.

RELATED: Sidney says it has not received any complaints about vehicles hogging EV charging stations

RELATED: Sidney could pump up electric vehicle charging across community

RELATED: Sidney records the second-highest rate of electric vehicle ownership on Vancouver Island

The question came up as council considered a staff report that recommended the town hire Sun Country Highway, an EV charging station manufacturer to operate and maintain the four public charging stations available in Sidney. Public use of the stations is ‘free’ with the municipality having paid about $9,000 since 2013.

Jenn Clary, director of engineering, said in a report that maintenance of the stations has challenged staff. She also said that the current practice of subsidizing users “may no longer be needed or supportable” with the EV market in Sidney now “well established.”

Sidney, in other words, appears interested in dropping what has been an incentive to encourage EV purchases and turning over its infrastructure to a private company.

While councillors did not follow staff’s recommendation to hire the company – for a number of reasons – they appeared open to hiring a private party to manage and ultimately profit off the infrastructure.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said Sidney finds itself in a “dynamic situation” concerning its charging infrastructure. “We have residents charging at the their residences, we have local governments providing services like we are doing with four meters, we have BC Hydro, and now we have networks, who are providing service to municipalities.”

McNeil-Smith said Sidney will have to ask itself how it fits into this environment as EVs become more popular and whether it is still appropriate for residents to subsidize owners of EVs through free charging stations. He also predicted that BC Hydro will eventually start charging for use of its charging station in town.

Coun. Peter Wainwright said that most users of Sidney’s charging stations are commuters, and most EV owners actually charge their vehicles at home. While some local residents use the local stations to charge up their vehicles overnight, they often appear to be high-end vehicles. “If you can afford a vehicle, you can probably afford a charger,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party interim leader to visit Wet’suwet’en camps

MLA Adam Olsen stands behind First Nations

Keating Elementry receiving earthquake upgrades

Seismic upgrades help better protect students in the event of an earthquake.

Adverse weather cancelled more than 900 ferry sailings in 2012

Less than three weeks into January, BC Ferries has cancelled more than 230 sailings

Speeding Alaska driver tells VicPD police chief he knows how to drive in the snow

Chief Const. Del Manak saw the speeder while driving on Highway 17

VIDEO: The Victoria byelection leads a selection of today’s news stories

A selection of Greater Victoria top stories for Jan. 17

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

POLL: Has the recent snow had an impact on your daily life?

Old Man Winter had Greater Victoria in his icy grip this week.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Most Read