NORTH HURON – The recent announcement of a conflict of interest has triggered a pause in installing electric vehicle charging stations in North Huron. Council has requested that ChargerCrew come before them to answer some questions before making any decisions.
Councillors questioned Jamie McCarthy, North Huron’s director of public works, during her presentation about the charging stations, asking about infrastructure costs, reliability of the devices, and whether the planned installations were worth the investment.
“In June 2020, the Township of North Huron entered into an agreement with the County of Huron, the Town of Goderich, and the Municipality of Huron East to submit an application for the ZeroEmission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan),” said McCarthy’s report. “The application was submitted, and funding was received. The funding allows the installation of 26 Level 2 electric vehicle charging ports throughout Huron County. Four of the 26 electric vehicle stations were allocated to North Huron.
“In July 2021, the County of Huron was notified that ChargerCrew had partnered with SparkPark. SparkPark was to provide 50 per cent of the required financial investment for this project. While finalizing the agreements for signing by the County and local municipalities, a conflict of interest was identified between SparkPark and NRCan. As a result, SparkPark can no longer proceed as the investor in this partnership.”
Coun. Paul Heffer questioned whether ChargerCrew should even be the chosen provider after the conflict of interest was discovered.
“Do we actually want to be dealing with a company where this happened,” Heffer said.
“Somebody didn’t do their homework too well,” he added. “I just don’t feel comfortable in supporting a company that allowed this to happen.”
“I don’t disagree with Coun. Heffer’s comment,” Deputy Reeve Trevor Seip said. “How do you go this far down the road and not know that there is a conflict of interest there.”
Seip commented that Huron County asked them to support this, and the original proposal indicated there would be no cost to North Huron.
Coun. Kevin Falconer inquired about the current status of the township’s infrastructure and if North Huron would incur additional costs for installation in the locations proposed for the charging stations.
McCarthy indicated that these costs were incorporated into the current funding proposal.
Reeve Bernie Bailey put an alternative motion forward to have the company ChargerCrew and a representative from Huron County come before council as a delegation to address questions and concerns that councillors have before any decision is made.
The original motion was for staff to negotiate an agreement with ChargerCrew regarding a cost recovery strategy.
Councillors agreed and have sent the request to both parties to arrange a delegation for a future meeting.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times