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Bowen's new EV spots ready to charge... for a small fee

The pair of spots will use a graduated pay scale, and be available for electric vehicles only
Charging station
The two electric vehicle charging stations were installed in the Library parking lot in January.

Drivers will be paying a few bucks to plug into Bowen’s new electric vehicle charging stations.

The pair of EV stations at the library are now connected to BC Hydro and ready to begin fueling – figuratively speaking. The final step before activation was to decide if they should be paid spots.

Natasha Cheong, Island community planner, presented council with the plan developed by staff and the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). The proposal was for paid usage of the charging stations, starting at $1 an hour for the first two hours and escalating to $3 for the third and final hour.

The three hour time limit was chosen to mirror the existing limit in the library parking lot.

Cheong says using estimates of 20 hours of use a week, the municipality can expect to make about $1,260 profit a year. At the same rate, after a decade the charging stations will have generated more than $12,000, money which can be used to replace or upgrade them.

There was consensus the spots should be paid, but chief financial officer Kristen Watson said the fee could be increased. “$1 an hour is extraordinarily cheap. Generally parking metres are $3 an hour and you don’t get electricity,” she says, pointing out the Village of Fruitvale in the Kootenay region charges $3 an hour.

Vancouver charges $2 an hour, while some areas of Metro Vancouver hit $5 after two hours.

“I think it’s easier to reduce it than it is to go higher once it’s there,” reasoned Watson. “And it is an amenity that is available to the community - they could come from a power outage at their house. It’s a fantastic amenity for people who live here, and it’s a fantastic amenity for visitors.”

After hearing from Watson, council decided to set the rate at $2 an hour for the first two hours, and $3 for the third hour.

The TAC had added their own recommendation that a 15 minute parking limit be available for all cars in the two spots, regardless of whether they’re electric or not. But council was soundly opposed to this.

“I think we should be promoting the use of electric vehicles and somebody’s who’s waiting down in the Cove for a charge probably needs it,” says Coun. Sue Ellen Fast. “I think we have a lot of free parking in the Cove for other people to drive around and find.” 

“I don’t think that the 15 minute option is especially useful or enforceable,” says Coun. Maureen Nicholson, while Coun. Alison Morse added she’s “totally opposed to having them be used for anything other than charging.”

Coun. David Hocking, a member of the TAC, says the 15 minute idea came from concerns over the spot not being used.

“It’s a really prime parking spot... we just didn’t want to have that spot empty all the time and people saying ‘Oh my goodness, this whole thing is just silly’, because it’s taking up a good spot.”

But ultimately Hocking joined the rest of his colleagues in abandoning this idea. The spot therefore can only be used by electric vehicles who are actively charging.

Correction: In our print version the final quote on Page 3 is attributed to Maureen Nicholson. It was actually Sue Ellen Fast.