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Castlegar charging into the future

City installs electric car charger downtown in the Castlegar Library Parking lot.
Castlegar has a new electric car charger downtown.

A new electric car charging station is now up and running in downtown Castlegar. The Level 2 - 240 volt charger is located in the south west corner of the Castlegar Library's parking lot. The charger is free to use and can give a vehicle a full charge in about four hours.

"It's great to see this happening," said Castlegar's CAO John Malcolm. "It is something the city has worked for, for a number of years. It's a good step moving forward into the future for lowering our carbon footprint."

The new charger is expected to primarily draw tourists and travellers, a fact that influenced the decision to place the unit downtown. Users will be able to do a bit of shopping and dining as well as take in Sculpturewalk and some fresh air at Millennium Park while their vehicles charge.

"Any time someone is using the charger that isn't a resident, they will be bringing money and generating business for the community," said Castlegar director of civic works Chris Barlow, "So it is definitely a good pay off." The new charger is already listed on plugshare, one of the primary sources for charging station locations.

Recent statistics suggest that there are about 3000 electric cars on the road in BC with the number expected to increase as more and more public charging stations become available and electric cars become more affordable.

"It's historic in a sense — like 120 years ago when we were transitioning from the horse and buggy to the gas car; except now we're transitioning from the internal combustion to the electric," said Malcom. "I'm sure the first gas stations that went up were greeted with some skepticism similar to what some are suggesting about the electrical."

The city hopes to expand the network of chargers in Castlegar in the future — possibly at the Chamber of Commerce and Millennium Park. "We are looking at a number of opportunities to increase the number of chargers in town," said Chris Barlow, director of civic works for Castlegar. "We are looking at some funding partners right now, but it is too early to say right now how it will work out."

Castlegar is being supported in that goal by the Community Energy Association (CEA), an organization that is working on behalf of the regional districts of East Kootenay, Kootenay Boundary and Central Kootenay as well as their member municipalities in developing a regional collaborative strategy.

"We are really pleased and delighted with the regional collaboration aspect," said CEA community relations manager Patricia Dehnel. As part of their Fueling the Kootenays strategy CEA is hoping to build a robust electric vehicle network.

Castlegar has had a public charging station since 2011 when Kootenay Savings Credit Union (KSCU) included one as part of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building they built on 20th St. That charger is a Level 1 - 120 volt and has two reserved parking spots on the west side of the building.

The KSCU charger primarily services a more local clientele with people that travel between Trail and Nelson for work and locals out running errands or participating in activities being frequent users.

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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