Interest is strong among several Almaguin Highlands communities in an electric vehicle charging station network.
Lakeland Holding Group of Companies is trying to determine the level of interest in those communities as it attempts to put together an application to Natural Resources Canada to secure up to 50 per cent funding to pursue the project.
At this point, Lakeland is not saying which communities were interested.
However, the Nugget reached out to several municipalities in Almaguin, and the interest for the network is high.
Armour Township Reeve Bob MacPhail says his council passed a resolution last week supporting the effort.
Furthermore, MacPhail told the Nugget the municipality will pass its resolution on to the Almaguin Community Economic Development Committee, with the goal of working with Lakeland as a region in order to “get the best economic benefit from this opportunity.”
Powassan Mayor Peter McIsaac said at this time, Lakeland has not contacted the municipality.
“However, I believe we would definitely support this initiative,” McIsaac said, adding he thinks both of the town's community centres, in addition to 250 Clark, “would be great sites for at least one station.”
McIsaac said he's certain some businesses also would be interested in a charging station.
South River currently has an Ivy charging station owned by Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation at the South River Brewing Co.
But clerk-administrator Don McArthur says South River is environmentally progressive and “would be interested in expanding that (charging station) network for future demand, so we can stay ahead of the curve.”
Meanwhile, Sundridge has been quick to jump on board the proposed network.
Municipal staff are drawing up a letter of intent for Lakeland after Vince Kulchyki, the company's chief operating officer, appeared at the May 12 council meeting to explain the commitments a municipality needs to make to get a charging station.
Kulchyki said the charging stations must have a nearby power source and the area has to be safe, with street lights and good visibility.
The municipality also must be willing to lose a regular parking spot, which would be reserved exclusively for electric vehicles.
Lakeland is looking at owning, installing and maintaining the charging stations.
People charging their vehicles would likely be billed on a per minute basis, although that detail still needs to be worked out.
In putting its application together, Jennifer Montpetit, manager of Lakeland's Advanced Planning and Communications department, told Sundridge town council that Lakeland is looking at 20 Level 2 chargers, in addition to two Level 3 chargers, across Parry Sound and Muskoka districts.
Lakeland is not proposing more Level 3 chargers because they need more power than normal to charge an electric vehicle.
This isn't the first time Sundridge has pursued an EV charging station system.
Mayor Lyle Hall says in 2015, the municipality partnered with a California company to bring charging station capabilities to the community and three possible sites were identified, including the municipal parking lot.
Hall says the effort ultimately failed, but he believes Lakeland can use the research collected in 2015 to consider where its charger, or chargers, could go.
At an earlier Sundridge council meeting, elected officials discussed the tourism potential of an EV charging station.
Deputy mayor Shawn Jackson said with today's technology, as more people buy electric cars, their onboard navigation system will tell them Sundridge has a charging station.
“It'll be a way to bring people into town,” Jackson said at the earlier meeting.
At that same meeting, Hall said the Lakeland initiative could be a “relatively cheap way to put us on the map.
“But also, this is the way of the future, so we might as well get started now,” Hall said.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget