A new electric vehicle (EV) charging station was unveiled Thursday morning in the municipal parking lot at 1st. St. and Cranbrook St. N behind the BMO building.
The charging station was facilitated by Accelerate Kootenays, which is a collaboration between various levels of government, business and non-profit organizations to build a clean transportation network throughout the Southern Interior of British Columbia.
The project is aiming for 13 fast charging stations and 40 Level 2 charging stations across the region over the next two years as well as implementing a broad marketing and communications initiative, according to Megan Lohmann, the Community Energy Manager with the RDEK.
“What makes this project so special is not just the $1.5 million and hours of strategy development that has been committed by all of our partners, or the fact that this is the first community-driven electric vehicle charging network in Canada, and to my knowledge, in North America.
“Or that it is the result of 10 years of region-wide energy and emissions planning to identify clean energy vehicles as a priority initiative, or the fact that it was a vision that the Highway 3 Mayors and Chairs coalition had for this highway corridor several years ago as a way to drive tourism and economic development across the Kootenays.
“What makes this project so special is that it truly embodies the characteristics that define the Kootenays and the people here and the future that we share.”
Pictured above: Megan Lohmann (RDEK), Raymond Lings (Powertech Labs), Roger Dall’Antonia (FortisBC), Kathryn Teneese (Ktunaxa Nation Council), Rob Gay (RDEK), Danielle Cardozo (Acting Cranbrook Mayor), Bill Bennett (Kootenay East MLA), Dianne Tammen (BC Hydro), Rick Jensen (Columbia Basin Trust).
The station was demonstrated with electric vehicles on hand such as a Chevrolet Volt and Telsa Model S and Model X. Funding and collaborating partners include: Ktunaxa Nation Council, City of Cranbrook, provincial and federal governments, RDEK, RDKB, RDCK, Columbia Basin Trust, BC Hydro, FortisBC, Powertech Labs.
The charging station in Cranbrook will complement others in communities across the region, stretching west to Rock Creek, north to Revelstoke and Golden and east to Sparwood, Elkford and the Alberta border, as well as many communities in between.
It’s the second electric vehicle charging station in Cranbrook; the first one was installed by the City of Cranbrook in 2014 at the Cranbrook Curling Club.
RDEK board chair Rob Gay noted the importance of the Highway 3 Mayors and Chairs committee, which sits down with the Ministry of Transportation to look at projects all across the highway, not just in the southern interior.
From the onset, our coalition had a vision to bring this electric highway to our area,” said Gay, “and it really reflects the unique opportunities for us in terms of tourism and economic development, which we had a study done along Highway 3 looking at all the opportunities there.”
The EV charging network is important, given that 60 per cent of greenhouse gases in the RDEK are produced from vehicles, added Gay.
“We’re not saying we’re going to get rid of our [gas] vehicles, but we’re going to do it more efficiently, so I’m just so excited to see all these vehicles around us that we can eventually plug in,” Gay said.
Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, who serves as Minister of Energy and Mines, which includes the responsibility of BC Hydro, noted that the provincial government has been working on reducing greenhouse gases through promotion and incentives of purchasing electric vehicles.
“It turns out that electric cars are one of the most popular ways to reduce the use of fossils fuels, maybe the most popular way,” said Bennett. “A lot of people have purchased electric cars, particularly in the Lower Mainland, and it’s going to happen here, especially now that we have charging infrastructure coming in, we can eliminate what’s known as range anxiety.
“I believe that we are going to have the best charging infrastructure, the most complete comprehensive approach to charging infrastructure than any other rural region in the province. We’re way ahead of anywhere outside of the Lower Mainland.”
For more information on the charging network and Accelerate Kootenays, visit www.accerlatekootenays.ca.