5 francophone communities to buy electric cars for residents to share

Five francophone communities in New Brunswick are taking part in a pilot project that will make electric cars available to residents.

The provincial association of francophone municipalities started the program to reduce its members' carbon footprint.

Dieppe, Beresford, Saint-Quentin, Shippagan and Tracadie will each buy one or two electric vehicles.

Luc Desjardins, the mayor of Petit Rocher and president of the association, said a lot of people are still unsure about how electric cars work and are curious about their efficiency.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News

Desjardins hopes this project will help educate people.

"It's a first step," he said. "We have five municipalities that are going to have 10 vehicles on the road by next year, and we hope that it's going to grow with the other municipalitie. And also it's a good example to set in your community."

Desjardins said municipal staff will have priority use of the vehicle, but at night and on weekends, members of the public will be able to book an electric car through an online program. Groups could even book the vehicle for trips out of town.

"It's new, it's fun, it's educational at the same time, and it's going to be used by not only the municipality, but the community, the whole community," he said. "So it's a win, win-win situation."

Desjardins said the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is helping to pay for the cost of the vehicles and recharging stations through its green fund.

It will be up to each community to decide whether residents will have to pay to use the cars.

Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre said the program fits in with the city's priorities.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News

"For us it's our way of helping out," he said. "We've put over the years many programs in place. We have a target for the next five years to reduce by six per cent our greenhouse gases and it's all part of that program."

Lapierre said it's a program that's been used successfully elsewhere. 

"We're not reinventing the wheel … or wheels."  

Lapierre said the francophone association has been active on climate change and makes good use of programs available through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News

He said Dieppe will start off with two electric cars.

"We'll see how the program goes. We will start with two cars and hopefully it will grow. Hopefully, there will be other organizations that will want to get involved."