Kamloops Coun. Dieter Dudy went to learn more about electric vehicles this week and walked out with a lease. A few years ago, he was concerned about range and charging options, but the technology has improved, he said.
After couple of days with his new ride, Dudy — a farmer away from council chambers — said the electric vehicle has been a “dream” to drive: comfortable, safe and techy. It’s a greener option than gasoline or diesel, with the city noting transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and the cost to charge is lower, at about $1 per day.
“It’s a strong motivating factor,” Dudy told KTW.
Dudy is just the latest city councillor to go electric and it appears the city is leading the charge. A draft strategy to support electric vehicles and bicycles in Kamloops recently went to the city’s development and sustainability committee. It will now go to council for approval prior to adoption.
The city sees the strategy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, while increasing the health of residents. The draft strategy points to price and charging access as continued barriers to limiting adoption of both technologies.
Five policies aim to quell those concerns, among others, and increase usage: support for home and workplace electric-vehicle and e-bike charging, development of public charging infrastructure, support for e-bike adoption, leading by example with city fleet and facilities and driving electrification of commercial fleets and transit.
“We’re just trying to make it easier for people by making sure charging stations are available, making sure infrastructure is in place to feel good. It’s a good time to make sure we can do it,” Dudy said.
In action, those goals may result in:
• zoning bylaw amendments to require new residential developments be EV-ready or include bicycle parking spots with 120-volt outlets;
• investment in city-owned public charging;
• an expedited build-out of cycling infrastructure;
• an e-bike sharing program or a “feebate” system that introduces fees on some sectors through business licensing and parking, but exemptions to encourage investment in EV charging infrastructure.
Coun. Arjun Singh is chair of the development and sustainability committee. He wonders where compressed natural gas, as a low-carbon option, fits within the city’s EV strategy and told the committee he prefers incentives over mandates.
Singh suggested the city could encourage a “cultural shift,” incentivizing young people to use electric bicycles. Teenagers still look to cars when they hit age 16, Singh noted. He envisions a pilot program working with the Kamloops-Thompson school district, wherein the city could potentially give away or offer incentives for a certain amount of ebikes in exchange for volunteerism in the community.
Singh suggested it could be funded from the city’s climate action reserve, which is in part funded from carbon tax revenue. That fund is sitting at about $1 million.
“If you had a cool ebike that you could qualify for, if you did x amount of things for the community, it might be something to do down the road,” Singh said.
Coun. Sadie Hunter said she would be in favour of exploring the idea, but questioned the timing. She also suggested a rental program, which could allow the public to try them out. Singh said he would raise the idea of e-bike incentives for teens with council at a later time. In addition, he noted a need to expedited cycling infrastructure. According to city plans, it will take the city some 20 years to address short and medium-term cycling infrastructure priorities.
“If we’re trying to encourage this 20 years from now, it’ll be 2040,” Singh said. “I’ll be old. We want to expedite that, if possible.”