I had the opportunity to test drive hybrid, electric and plug-in electric vehicles last week in West Vancouver as part of Green Vehicles 101 at an event called the Ford Power of Choice.
The point of the mini-course was to demonstrate the difference between the electric options available to consumers. Having never driven one previously, I jumped at the opportunity.
Parking my 1998 Toyota Corolla for an opportunity to slip behind the wheel of a 2012 vehicle added to the attraction, of course, and for a few brief moments last week I felt like I was living the West Vancouver dream, cruising the streets in a hybrid SUV. The four vehicles I tested were the Ford Flex, the all-new Focus Electric, the Fusion Hybrid and the pre-production 2013 Escape-not yet available for sale in Canada, giving me my Top Gear moment of the day.
While driving the hilly streets of West Vancouver, the electric and hybrid vehicles felt much like any other vehicle from behind the steering wheel. It was only when some of the vehicle's technology was explained to me did I realize for the first time how much A) I want a hybrid or electric car, and B) I want a new car that's even more economical to drive than my Corolla. The test drive also gave me a new perspective on the efforts the city and park board are taking to ensure that, by the time I can afford an electric car, the infrastructure will be in place.
The park board is seeking public support for the installation of an integrated electric vehicle charging station and cellular pole at three park locations along Beach Avenue, at Broughton, Bute and Bidwell streets. According to a park board staff report, through combined technologies this project will provide electric vehicle charging stations at convenient locations, as well as increase cell phone capacity in the West End. The report says wireless data traffic is expected to double every year now through 2014, which translates to 40 million customers by 2020 should that trend continue. Meanwhile, the electric charging stations are part of the city's long-term strategy to support loweremission vehicles. The report notes by 2017, it's expected 4.9 per cent of new cars will be electric, which should give me just about enough time to save for one.
The park board is holding two open house events to find out if the public supports such a plan. The May 5th open house takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. and the May 9th event runs from 5: 30 to 7: 30 p.m. at the park board's administration office, 2099 Beach Ave. To read the entire report and take part in an online survey regarding the proposal, visit vancouver.ca/parks.
Freedom of association
NPA park board commissioner Melissa De Genova brought forward a motion on notice to the board meeting Monday night recommending the new Creekside Community Recreation Centre form a community centre association within six months.
The park board has a long history of partnering with community centre associations, but the process of creating updated operating agreements with many centres has been stalled for years. De Genova is also asking that the park board direct staff to implement a plan or strategy for community centres to ensure future facilities have an association in place either before or soon after the opening of all new centres.
Bowling for members
The Dunbar Lawn Bowling Club, which celebrates its 87th anniversary this year, hosts its annual open house May 12 with bowling starting at 1: 30 p.m.
The club describes itself as "friendly," with established bowlers happy to help newcomers with pointers on the sport of lawn bowling. Informal practice sessions are scheduled on Saturday mornings for those who wish to develop their skills.
The Dunbar Lawn Bowling Club, considered to have one of the most beautiful greens in the province, is located at 3850 West 31st Ave. at Highbury Street.
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