Letter: Council chooses wrongly in charging station decision

Dear Mayor and Council,

After hearing Valemount council turned down staff’s proposal to apply to Charge North Clean BC grant program to purchase and install one Level 2 EV charging station in Valemount, I was wishing for once that Public Comments to agenda items was actually at the end.

Community Energy Association (CEA) is working with the province’s Charge North CleanBC program to assist municipalities to purchase and install Level2 Charging Stations in their communities. The grant program will cover operating and maintenance fees for five years. The Village might have to contribute $2,500-$5,000 to help with purchase and installation, although the CEA is working to find the 27% not covered by the province’s 73% contribution.

Councillor Hollie Blanchette mentioned Best Western already having a charging station. She said that since she pays for her own gas when she goes out of town, she doesn’t think local taxpayers should pay for tourists’ travel costs. Councillor Pete Pearson felt he would be ok if there was a user pay system. Council denied staff’s request even after Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Robinson explained that the cost would be 50 cents a charge and subscribing to a metering system to charge a customer for hydro wouldn’t justify the additional cost.

I do want to mention that BC Hydro has offered to set up a Level 3 charging station, similar to the one at Best Western. However, these charging stations cannot charge all electric vehicles. I hope that council’s no to the Charge North CleanBC does not mean it will not follow up working with BC Hydro on a charging station. However, that was not mentioned at the council meeting at all.

I have many reasons to be upset hearing the discussion:

1) Showing our care and responsibility for our environment is not something that should be defined by political boundaries. A few dollars towards supporting the move to greener energy sources is big picture thinking. If we want to see the provincial and federal governments support us for geothermal development and green energy initiatives, the municipal government should do its part when the money to purchase the charging station is being supported by the provincial government.

2) As more people move to electric vehicles, it makes sense to put Valemount on the Electric Charging Station map. We’re doing so much to promote ourselves as a tourist destination – how is a few dollars donated to a tourist to charge an electric car any different?

3) We serve people outside our jurisdiction often. Volunteer firefighters and ambulance staff often serve tourists and travellers on the highway who are supported by local tax dollars, especially the fire department. Tourists are already receiving a lot of free services – the info centre and its interpretive programs. So how is this different?

4) Canada’s social system doesn’t rely on a user pay for things we value – health care, recreation services, garbage, water, sewer – we all pay into it irrespective of how much we use the system. And since other northern communities are installing charging stations, future Valemount electric car users can use for no charge!

5) Having an electric charging station at Centennial Park would do something to bring more tourists to downtown. I see lots of money directed at tourism businesses but very little for non-tourism businesses.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a sign near the log entrance to Valemount inviting people to visit downtown businesses while they charge their electric car?

I really invite council to stop thinking in terms of political boundaries, nickels and dimes, but rather all the things you would truly be standing for when you say yes to an electric charging station downtown.

Sincerely,

Rashmi Narayan

Valemount

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