Blog by Mary Cleaver

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Electric Vehicles - BC Improves the Incentives, But Not the Rules

Electric Vehicles - BC Improves the Incentives, But Not the Rules

$11,000 electric vehicle provincial incentive.

Welcome news! The BC government recently announced that it will double the electric vehicle incentive offered by the popular Scrap-it program. British Columbians can now exchange a gas guzzling old-timer (whatever its worth in the marketplace) for $6000 toward the purchase of a new electric vehicle. When added to the $5000 EV rebate that’s already in place, the province appears to be getting serious about encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles.

Fantastic! But where can I charge my new car?

The challenge for our clients in Vancouver is to find places to charge their electric vehicles. In a single family home, it’s easy. Just plug into the regular outlet in the wall of the garage overnight and the car is good to go by morning. But most of us downtown or in the Kits to Commercial corridor live in stratas with shared parking facilities – Not so easy for us...

There are too few public charging stations in Vancouver to service today’s EV drivers, let alone accommodate the level of growth required for the city to significantly reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. The city is looking at ways to add more charging capacity, but  more of us need to be able to charge at home.

Two case studies.

One of our Mount Pleasant clients plugged her new Nissan Leaf into the wall outlet in her 1970s underground parkade and the power went out. It seems the electrical system will need to be upgraded to accomodate the extra usage. Luckily, Amy lives close to a public charging station and, although it’s less convenient than charging at home, she’s making it work. A quick flip to the breaker got the electricity back on quickly too!

Mike, a client living in a newer building in downtown Vancouver, has a more frustrating story. He requested permission from strata prior to buying his Tesla, only to find that his strata council was unwilling to follow through when he tried to get official approval. He offered to pay for the charging station and the electricity, and to take full responsibility for maintenance. He was also willing to allow other EV owners to use it free of charge. Despite all his assurances, permission was denied. Over the next two years, he did everything he could think of: He worked out all the logistics, spoke to his neighbours, appeared before the council and fellow unit owners, and wrote letters to politicians. In the end, Mike gave up and sold his condo rather than his new car!

The BC Strata Property Act.

There are legitimate concerns around electric vehicle charging in multi-family buildings, such as finding space, electrical capacity, installation costs, and developing a system of user fees and agreements so EV owners can pay for their electricity. But assuming that these hurdles can be

overcome, shouldn’t strata corporations have a duty to not unreasonably refuse permission? Not yet, according to the language of standard strata by-laws relating to parking areas.

The City of Vancouver has rules in place ensuring that new strata developments are built with the capacity for EV chargers, and builders are installing charging stations in some projects. But over a million people live in existing strata buildings in BC, and they have no reason to think their strata will work with them to make charging at home a possibility.

If the province, in addition to offering financial incentives to EV drivers, provided clear guidelines about strata responsibility to facilitate these retrofits through the Strata Property Act, the number of electric vehicles might rise much faster, and emissions would decrease.