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Town considers installing electric vehicle charging stations for public use
2015-05-28
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Stacey Roy, May 27, 2015 - Smiths Falls Record News

Smiths Falls’ town hall was the first to have a phone and Internet connection available to the community, and this year they may add electric vehicle charging stations to this list.

Paul Camire, eastern Ontario, Quebec and New Bruinswick regional manager of Sun Country Highway made a presentation to Committee of the Whole this week to introduce their new program for municipalities and businesses. The program offers up to three charging stations per location free of charge to approved locations provided the community or business pays for installation and ongoing hydro costs for users. Camire pitched the idea as an economic draw for the community. He notes an average charge can take approximately 20 minutes and cost between $1 to $5 for a full charge. Installation costs are on a case-by-case basis.

“In the meantime you walk around; you support the local business,” Camire said.

Mayor Shawn Pankow has put 130,000 km on his Tesla electric vehicle, including a recent trip to Florida.

“We went to some parts of the US we wouldn’t otherwise have seen,” Pankow said. “I think it’s a very exciting opportunity. I’d like to see a day where half the vehicles on the road are energy efficient.”

Overall interest around the table to learn more about this opportunity will mean staff will come back with a report to a future committee meeting where they will discuss potential municipal station locations, estimates on installation costs and staff recommendation.

Susan Brandum, manager of the REAL Deal store on William, confirmed her interest in operating a potential charging site as it fits in with their park and paddle program they are offering this summer where people can park their car and borrow a bike to go around town.

Coun. Dawn Quinn expressed interest to learn more, but noted hydro costs are on the rise in Ontario and is a consideration in the future discussion.

“I don’t see anybody giving me free gas,” Quinn said.

Electric vehicle charging stations across North America are offered for free as it is recognized as a potential business opportunity since most charges can take 20 minutes.

Coun. John Maloney recognizes this as a business opportunity and suggests approaching the Smiths Falls Downtown Business Association and Smiths Falls & District Chamber of Commerce to see if they would be interested in covering some of the installation or hydro cost if charging stations were put in commercial areas.

“I think that’s something that we should look at as well,” Maloney said.

If the town decides to install charging stations they won’t be the first ones in the community. Mike Fair Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac on Lombard Street introduced two charging stations a couple of years ago, which they offer to customers free of charge and as part of their service department. The dealership has four regular users of the system to date, including their service advisor, Sherri Varcoe.

“What I’m saving in gas is making my car payments,” Varcoe said.

She purchased her Chevrolet Volt last June and has put 15,400 km on it since. Varcoe said in that time she has spent $527 in gas. Like Pankow and Coun. Chris Cummings, Varcoe feels the electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles like her Volt are the way of the future.

“It could be a pretty good attractor to the community,” Cummings said.

Camire said three years ago there were three models of electric cars in Canada and today there are 20 models and growing. Aside from this local dealership, a restaurant in Maberly outside of Perth has installed charging stations at its location.

If council decides to move forward with these charging stations, they will need to get quotes on installation and then send their list of locations to Sun Country Highway for approval.

Read the article at Inside Ottawa Valley