HRM considers electric vehicle strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

·2 min read
An vehicle charging station is pictured under a solar panel in Burnaby, B.C., last month. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
An vehicle charging station is pictured under a solar panel in Burnaby, B.C., last month. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Halifax is considering an electric vehicle strategy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to municipal officials, transportation accounted for 20 per cent of the city's emissions as of 2016.

Details of the strategy were presented to Halifax's environment committee on Thursday.

Kevin Boutilier, a clean-energy specialist with the municipality's environment and climate change department, told the committee that the strategy includes the construction of about 1,100 charging stations over the next 10 years to encourage the public to start using electric vehicles.

"One of the most common barriers to getting into electric vehicles is range anxiety, the idea that I'm going to have an electric vehicle and nowhere to fuel it," Boutilier said.

The strategy suggests putting some of the charging ports along highways to benefit rural commuters, as well as at some regional recreational centres.

But Coun. Sam Austin thinks Alderney Landing in Dartmouth should be considered instead.

"I've had four or five requests about a charging station at Alderney over the last couple of years," said Austin. "I've never had anyone contact me asking about the Sportsplex."

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The cost of constructing the charging stations could be $23 million by 2030. HRM staff have applied for federal funding.

Boutilier also said Halifax should lead by example.

That means switching the municipality's fleet of light-duty vehicles to electric over the next 10 years.

There are 550 vehicles in the light-duty fleet. The replacement cost would total $27.8 million.

The strategy outlines policy changes that are needed because most recharging is done overnight at home.

However, 10 per cent of HRM's population lives in apartment buildings.

"So it's very important to encourage developers to install electric vehicle charging in their parking lots," said Boutilier. "Municipalities in British Columbia have the authority to mandate this within developments. We currently do not."

HRM staff want to ask the province for permission to include electric charging stations in the municipality's planning rules. Coun. Shawn Cleary is not sure that is necessary.

"I think we actually think we can do this if we really wanted to," said Cleary.

The committee endorsed the strategy, but it will need approval from regional council.

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