What started out as an unexpected gift has now in some ways become an obstacle for Castlegar.
“It was at a convention in early 2012 and Mayor Chernoff won the charging station on behalf of the city,” explained City Councillor Kevin Chernoff about the still un-used electric vehicle charging station belonging to the City of Castlegar.
When they first took possession of the futuristic facility it seemed like an ideal way to encourage residents towards long-term transportation solutions that would benefit the environment, as well as bring in tourism dollars from electric-car-driving travellers.
Unfortunately, what the gift did not include was seed funding to install and establish the station itself.
“When we started looking into it, we found that the installation cost was substantial — somewhere in the neighbourhood of $20,000 – $25,000,” said Councillor Chernoff, adding that the high amount is caused by the necessary power lines that must be installed to fuel the station.
“Wherever it goes there has to be infrastructure to the station and that’s the expensive installation cost.”
The infrastructure demands also meant the City needed to re-think their initial idea to house the facility at the downtown City Hall building.
“Originally, we thought we could install it at [Castlegar] City Hall, but it needs to be accessible to the road,” said Councillor Chernoff, meaning that placing the station near City Hall could have incurred unexpected costs, such as altering city property and changing traffic patterns to accommodate the station.
Luckily, an alternate location is currently in discussion, which, if successful, will align naturally with the original intention to encourage “green” behaviour and entice tourists to the area.
“Currently, we’re looking at the Chamber of Commerce as a location. It just makes sense, because potentially people would be coming through town who need to charge their electric cars.”
However, even if a location is secured, there is still the issue of running the station on a regular basis, which is not part of the City’s operating budget. To solve the problem, the City of Castlegar’s Green Committee is looking to partner with local firms who might also benefit from funding the station’s installation and operating costs.
“We’re in discussions with some of our local contributors like Columbia Basin Trust and Fortis to come up with some sort of joint plan to run this.”
While no decision about the location or funding had been made at the time of this article, Councillor Chernoff said he expected some updates to arise from the Green Committee’s meeting on September 11.
Overall, the successful installation of the electric vehicle charging station is hoped to boost tourism, local green initiatives, and also help Castlegar towards achieving carbon-neutral status. For the 2013 reporting year, the City of Castlegar was awarded a “level 2 recognition – measurement” from the joint Provincial-Union of B.C. Municipalities Green Committee, indicating a successful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the previous year.