RDN board votes against proceeding with electric vehicle charging strategy

·2 min read

An electric vehicle charging strategy meant to explore the Regional District of Nanaimo’s role in encouraging EV uptake has been defeated by the RDN board of directors.

The board defeated a motion on Oct. 26 for an engagement plan to collect feedback from the public and industry in service of the strategy’s proposed scope: to address charging infrastructure-related barriers within RDN jurisdiction such as EV-ready buildings, charging station fee structures, rebates, outreach and education.

The strategy is not the same as the electric vehicle charging stations that are to be installed in some electoral areas next year and which were the subject of an alternative approval process earlier this year.

“This next part is a strategy that would cover the entire RDN,” Paul Thompson, acting general manager of planning and development, told the board prior to the vote.

Development of a regional electric vehicle charging strategy is an action item in the 2019-22 strategic plan, but with the board putting the brakes on proceeding with it, the $21,850 earmarked in the 2021 budget to undertake it will need to be redirected. Staff will consider using those unused funds for another “regional sustainability initiative,” Thompson said in a followup email.

Electoral Area B Director Vanessa Craig voted in favour of the strategy and engagement plan telling the Sounder the strategy would have been useful as an “overall framework that explicitly examines where the RDN can make advances in supporting the upcoming electrification of our area instead of making decisions on an ad hoc basis.

“In particular, I think it is worth examining how the RDN could facilitate the inclusion of EV charging infrastructure in development.”

The EV charging strategy is in line with the climate action technical advisory committee’s report on priority actions to take to address climate change, the draft of which was approved by the board in September. In part, the report calls for a review and update of existing RDN policies and bylaws to remove barriers to climate mitigation and adaptation and to ensure RDN policies support climate-appropriate development and operations.

“This would just have given it a head-start with already-identified funding,” Craig said. “The upcoming draft budget will include funding for the CATAC priorities, and will go ahead if approved by the board during the budget process.”

Nanaimo Director Ben Geselbracht voted in favour of the EV strategy engagement plan saying the RDN needs to make sure infrastructure can keep up with future demand and targets as the province’s CleanBC Roadmap released Oct. 25 accelerates the goal for 100 per cent of light-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

RDN Chair Tyler Brown voted against the strategy saying the expenditure didn’t rank as a strong enough priority in the final year of the RDN’s strategic plan and that the infrastructure to support EV uptake would “happen naturally.”

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

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