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THE WEEK — April 18: Victoria charges up Earth Week

In mind of all the Earth Week excitement, the City of Victoria made its own impressive contribution just weeks ago with city parkades now housing eight new electric vehicle charging stations.

Charging stations have popped up all around B.C. this spring, and a quick search at PlugShare.com reveals the Island is no exception. A few dozen stations dot the CRD, along with a handful of the increasingly popular home charging stations. In Victoria, the Centennial Square, Johnson Street and Bastion Square parkades now offer one charging station each. Two stations have also been installed at the View Street parkade and three at the Broughton Street parkade.

Don’t expect a quick fuel up, yet, though — the charging stations will take three to eight hours to fully recharge an electric car battery. And with approximately 45 electric cars residing in the CRD and 77 on the Island, according to ICBC, the stations could get competitive, though the city has installed two additional charging stations at the Public Works Yard for use by city vehicles. Normal parking charges will still apply at the new parkade stations, but there is no additional fee to use the charger. The city’s “First Hour Free” coupon will also permit a free hour of charge to your vehicle.

This spark is all thanks to the province’s $2.74 million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund that will support up to 570 public charging stations across B.C. this season. The incentives cover up to 75 per cent of the capital and installation costs. Down south, companies like Portland General Electric (PGE) in Oregon are leading the way and installed the nation’s first quick-charge station in 2010 — which can take an electric vehicle from dead to nearly full in under half an hour.

Gradual as it may be, “greening” the City of Victoria’s fleet is one of four areas of the city’s “Cut the Carbon” program to reduce energy use and emissions within city operations. The city currently has electric “gators” for hauling and digging work within its parks and, this year, the city is tendering for two electric work trucks.

For resident pleasure, city’s parkades also offer charging stations for electric bikes and free covered parking for bikes powered by legs.
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