Decision on EV charging fees on hold

Action on a 2016 motion to change Sechelt’s charges and fees bylaw to allow for a fee to use the district’s EV “fast charger” will have to wait a little longer after council asked for a fresh report from staff.

District staff brought the proposed bylaw amendment to council on March 6, blaming an oversight for the fact it hadn’t come forward earlier. The mistake was caught during a recent review by the finance department.

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The amendment called for a fee for the fast chargers of 35 cents per kilowatt-hour, with a $2 minimum. The Level 2 chargers would continue to be free to use.

The staff report said that in 2018 the total cost of operating all the district’s charging stations amounted to some $5,500, $4,200 of that for BC Hydro fees.

District staff said they didn’t have details on how those costs break down between the fast chargers and the Level 2 chargers, but did confirm the fast charges are more expensive to operate and the electricity fees from BC Hydro are higher.

Coun. Alton Toth, who’s one of the administrators of the Level 2 chargers owned by the Trail Bay Centre, said their current estimate is that the slower chargers each use about $2 per day in electricity.

Coun. Matt McLean said he was prepared to support instituting a fee, if the money could be directed to installing more charging stations.

“Free charging encourages more people to buy electric vehicles … but it is a system that can be abused – people can park their cars for hours at a charging station where they may not need to use it, and that’s something that should be addressed,” he said.

McLean argued that knowing the fees would be used to expand the charging network would be an incentive for people to choose the fast charges over the free options, whereas a fee that goes into the district’s general revenue might result in fewer people using the fast chargers.  

He could not get the backing of the rest of council for that idea, in part because the consensus was to put the bylaw amendment back on hold while staff gathers more information on how much the chargers are being used and a comparison between the usage and costs for the Level 2 and fast chargers.

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