An electric vehicle charging station at Chilliwack City Hall. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Chilliwack plugs into EV requirements for new construction

Consultation underway to determine what level of electric vehicle infrastructure will be adequate

The City of Chilliwack is preparing for a surge in electric vehicle ownership by looking at the zoning requirements for new construction.

Consultations are underway with the development community to determine what level of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure will be required in Chilliwack to meet the growing demand for zero-emission vehicles.

Input is being sought now by a consultant who will be speaking to developers, stakeholders, and members of the Design Review Advisory Committee in the coming weeks, to provide options and zoning bylaw recommendations to bring back to council for approval.

The timing for the consultations is significant.

The Victoria EV Association put out a news release Feb. 19, measuring 45 municipalities across B.C. in terms of how well they are preparing.

Chilliwack was ranked in fourth place for EV readiness, or “List D,” in a comparison of cities having already implemented EV charging requirements, or in some way amended zoning bylaws.

“Every new building project that should have EV infrastructure and does not provide for it represents an expensive retrofit in the future,” says James Locke, president of the Victoria Electric Vehicle Association.

Locke’s advice is that anyone contemplating moving to a new residence should ask about the availability of an electric charging outlet for their unit.

“This is particularly important for multiple residential buildings where retrofitting will be most expensive.”

List D cities, like Chilliwack, as well as Abbotsford, Kamloops, Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Mission, Penticton and many more, either have “no or exceptionally low EV infrastructure requirements,” according to the findings by the volunteer-based Victoria EV association.

On the other end of the spectrum is District of Saanich, which has implemented comprehensive zoning bylaw requirements for all zoning classes, which is deemed a “best practice,” by the group.

While it might be true to say that right now Chilliwack has “very few” of these EV requirements on the books, that is going to change in a few months, said David Blain, city director of planning and engineering.

EV infrastructure consultations in Chilliwack are happening now, at the same time city officials have been seeking input for their zoning bylaw review process.

These efforts come after council directed staff to investigate what Chilliwack should expect in terms of EV standards for new construction, to inform the zoning bylaw update process.

Making those changes could range from doing nothing at one end of the spectrum, to full tilt where every new unit would require an energized charging station.

The Victoria EV Association said their findings amount to a measure of the “future-proofing” being done across the province, at a time when EV purchases have grown exponentially in B.C.

“Regardless of EV ownership, residential units with EV outlets will be more valuable than those without installed and energized EV outlets.” said Locke. “Some developers are taking the initiative and are already providing some electric vehicle infrastructure, but this is the exception rather than the rule.”

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