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Province makes funds available to Whistler and others to boost electric car use

Millions available in grants to install charging stations



Whistler and other communities in the Sea to Sky region have been invited to apply for $2.74 million in provincial grants for the building of electric vehicle charging stations.

Marion Town of the Fraser Basin Council told delegates at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) on Thursday (May 10) that the B.C. government wants to build a province-wide network of 570 electric charging stations. Cash is available to all municipal and regional governments, First Nations, private companies, NGOs and other B.C. institutions.

Since the majority of electric vehicles owners are based in the Lower Mainland, she said the need for charge stations in this region was the greatest.

The Fraser Basin Council is the administrative authority of the Community Charging Infrastructure Fund on behalf of the BC Ministry of Environment. Successful applicants will receive between $5,000 and $20,000 to create a community-wide planning process for charging infrastructure; successful applicants can also obtain up to $4,000 per charging station, to a maximum of 75 per cent of the cost.

The call for submissions is going out on May 31, with the deadline for applicants the last week in June.

In an interview, Town said the route from Whistler to Vancouver could easily benefit, and residents as well as visitors are already taking advantage of provincial rebates from purchasing electric vehicles.

"The key locations on the Sea to Sky corridor are critical," she said.

* Town acknowledged that the tight timeframe for sending in applications would be a challenge.

Local politicians at the LMLGA meeting mulled over the potential of the announcement to the region.

"It's a nice surprise to know that the provincial government has funding available. We can look into it and see if there is an opportunity for us and an appetite for it... it's a lot of money," said Susie Gimse, chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has been involved with several projects related to the future electrification of transportation in both Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor.

A spokesperson for the RMOW said in an email they understood the announcement will move forward electric vehicle support projects, and that "Whistler would be included - that would be our hope and expectation."

The other recent related RMOW involvement includes:

* Participation on the Plug-In Electric Community Group with B.C.'s Ministry of Energy and Mines;

* The installation of two existing electric charging stations in Whistler;

* A level-one charging station in the underground parking at the Whistler Conference Centre;

* A level-two charge point station in the public parking area in front of Whistler's municipal hall; and

* Support for Ministry of Energy and Mines' current research project (led by UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) investigating criteria for the successful selection and deployment of "fast charge stations" along the "green highway".