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Jolt needed in Victoria’s electric vehicle charger rollout as city misses first target

Goal to build 650 over six years, but only 67 installed in 2022
City of Victoria electric vehicle chargers n Store Street. The city will need to ramp up the number of public chargers it builds in the coming years to keep up with the expected demand and its own timelines. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

While it’s the economic core of a region boasting the country’s highest percentage of electric vehicle sales, Victoria is already playing catch-up in building infrastructure enabling lower-emission rides.

The city installed 67 electric vehicle charging stations in 2022, well short of the 110 that were envisioned for last year in Victoria’s EV and E-Mobility Strategy. Those 67 spots included new Level 2 ports in city parkades and two fast chargers installed at Vic West Park.

The city is striving for 30 per cent of all registered passenger vehicles to be electric by 2030 as it works toward hitting the 100 per cent mark by 2050. To support the increased demand, Victoria’s strategy aims for 650 new public charging spots to be built by the end of 2027.

The city’s draft budget has earmarked $2.6 million for new electric vehicle infrastructure in 2022. Similar amounts are allocated in each of the three following years as the city has expected to spend about $8.5 million on the public charging network between 2022 and 2027 – with half of that coming from senior governments.

“While local business and institutions are investing in EV charging infrastructure, the near-term rate of private sector investment is not expected to meet the level required to sustain future growth in EVs sufficient to align with (the city’s) greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets,” the 2023 financial plan says.

As the use of Victoria’s network has doubled in recent years, the city budget states public charging infrastructure will help current and prospective electric vehicle owners be confident they’ll have access to charging in the region’s economic and entertainment core.

The EV strategy says public charging options are vital because 80 per cent of Victoria residents live in multi-unit buildings – where installing charging is much more complex and costly. The capital funding in the coming years looks to get the city’s network off the ground, while the eight-year electric vehicle strategy is back-loaded with an increased emphasis on retrofitting existing buildings to support EVs.

The city’s strategy recommends the bulk of EV infrastructure funding shifts to retrofits in 2027 as it estimates 40,600 parking stalls – totalling 90 per cent of all spaces – in existing buildings would need upgrades.

Replacing the Johnson Street parkade’s end-of-life electrical system with a new one that will be able to meet changing capacity is also included in this year’s budget.

Electric vehicle registrations in B.C. have seen a stark increase in the last half-decade, going from 5,000 in 2016 to about 85,000 last year. The province and Canada have committed to having electric models make up all new light-duty vehicle sales as of 2035.

The federal government’s March 28 budget also introduced a new tax credit for manufacturing zero-emission vehicles and the components that go into them.

That comes just days after President Joe Biden’s visit to Ottawa where he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to agreements on harmonizing electric-vehicle charging equipment and increasing access to charging infrastructure.

READ: $491B federal budget invests heavily in green economic transformation

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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