Fast charging stations are making electric vehicle ownership feasible for Kootenay residents and also attracting tourists, a host of visitors to Creston demonstrated on Friday.
More than a dozen electric vehicles, ranging from Bolts to Teslas, converged on the Cook Street parking lot last week to celebrate the installation of Direct Current Fast Chargers and other charging stations along the Highway 3 corridor in the Kootenays. By the end of the summer, the Kootenays will have 1,800 kilometres of connected electric vehicle travel, according to event emcee Megan Lohmann of Community Energy BC.
Lohmann said that Canada’s first regional and community-driven strategy to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles celebrated its Kootenay-wide network of electric vehicle charging stations last week.
The Creston event celebrated the success of the Accelerate Kootenays initiative with many of the partners and funders involved over the past two years. In attendance at the launch on Friday was Hon. Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Nelson-Creston MLA, who celebrated the project alongside Rob Gay, Board Chair of the Regional District of East Kootenay; Karen Hamling, Board Chair of the Regional District of Central Kootenay; Bree Seabrook, Manager, Special Initiatives for Columbia Basin Trust; Doug Stout, VP Market Development & External Relations at FortisBC; Maureen Daschuk, Sr. VP Integrated Planning at BC Hydro; and Catherine Adair, Community Relations Leader at Teck Trail Operations. Mayor Ron Toyota and most of Creston Town Council also attended, along with RDCK representatives and staff.
“British Columbians are keen to adopt electric vehicles, and increasing charging stations to all corners of the province is essential to that adoption,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “The Government of British Columbia is pleased to be a part of these initiatives as well as making electric vehicle purchases more affordable. Reducing carbon emissions by increasing clean energy vehicle use is part of our plan to build a better B.C.” Mungall drove an electric vehicle over Kootenay Pass to participate.
RDCK Chair Karen Hamling emphasized the local context of the project: “The Accelerate Kootenays project is an opportunity for our communities to show off what’s great about the region, and to draw attention to the innovation that exists here at the community and regional level. We expect the project to attract new visitors to the region, benefitting our communities in a variety of ways.”
The two-year, $1.8 million project is the result of an innovative collaboration between all levels of government as well as funding agencies that have worked together to address the charging infrastructure gap across the region. The initiative highlights the opportunities for electric vehicles in the Kootenays, using communications and marketing to bring a local context to the growing technology.
The project has been made possible by an unprecedented local collaboration led by the Regional Districts of East Kootenay, Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary, and includes in-kind and funding contributions from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund TM (GMF) and the Government of Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Teck, FortisBC, BC Hydro and Powertech Labs.
Under the Green Municipal Fund, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities announced a grant to support Accelerate Kootenays in February. GMF supports initiatives that advance innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
Fast charging infrastructure is owned and operated by BC Hydro and FortisBC, in their respective service areas. Level 2 stations are installed in partnership with local governments, in strategic locations that will optimize economic co-benefits in the community. For more information go to www.acceleratekootenays.ca.