Charging stations are about so much more than climate change and the future.
It was with shock and dismay that I read about Council’s rejection of plans to install more charging stations in Valemount. It took me a while to formulate my response. I want to try and reason to the largest audience possible. As such, I will not lecture anybody about climate change, nor will I delve into the rabbit hole of cost-benefit analysis of municipal vehicles and Councillor travel stipends. Instead, I will inform those of us who still drive gasoline and diesel vehicles why we want charging stations right now.
The first reason is a tale as old as municipalities themselves. A village is built up around some sort of major transportation infrastructure. The big world decides to change and a newer, faster form of mass-transportation takes over. The old village is left out in the cold while developers scramble to capitalize on the newer locations adjacent to the new traffic flows.
Valemount has experienced this. Main Street is not Valemount’s commercial district. But it is not as if everything just moved out to the highway. Finally after four decades of indecision and poor planning, we finally have a commercial district with some sort of municipal character. If for no other reason, why would we not do whatever it takes to draw more traffic to our 5th Avenue core?
Now, for bigger and more abstract economics: does anybody like paying too much for fuel? Does anybody like driving to Alberta to see prices twenty or even thirty percent lower? Now certainly there are taxes, but everybody knows the real game: Monopoly! Now if we lived in the United States, Suncore would not be allowed to own Petro Canada. Isn’t it incredible how the price of crude oil is lower than it was in the 90s, yet the price of petroleum at the pump is more than double? Now instead of launching into a Socialist tirade about re-nationalizing Petro-Canada, why not just approach this reasonably? Most vehicle marketers are saying that within 10 years, 30 per cent of all vehicles, even in Canada, will be electric. Now imagine if you are an oligarch accustomed to being able to set inflated prices for your product because there is no competition? It is called an inelastic good. Do you want to pay less for fuel at the pump? Demand that council install five charging stations tomorrow.
The excuses about nominal costs are not going to fly. Is anybody serious about the concern of not being able to charge for the service? It is called a parking meter. Forget about trying to track how much actual electricity is being used. At most it will be fifty cents. Charge a toonie per hour. This will ensure that the charging stations are not blocked for more than the hour it takes to charge. Put a cell phone number somebody can text a complaint to if they arrive to find the metre expired. I guarantee that even if enforcement is less than 50 per cent perfect, this two-dollar fee will more than pay for the station, the electricity and the enforcement.
Stop making excuses. Past generations may have been ok with watching the price of fuel eat away at their expendable income, but I am not. It is time to break to illegal monopolization of our fuel companies. We finally have a way to do it without even passing any new laws or expropriating any private property. No Supreme Court challenges or arguments about public control over important commodities. Solutions do not always need to be a struggle between the political spheres.