There are plenty of places around the Tri-Cities to fill up the conventional car with fuel, but options are limited when it comes to an electric vehicle.
However, that could soon change thanks to a Metro Vancouver pilot project.
The regional district is considering electric vehicle (EV) charging sites for a pilot project in the Lower Mainland, and a Coquitlam city councillor wants to explore the opportunity for one to be located in the Tri-Cities.
Coun. Selina Robinson, who is a member of Metro Vancouver's environment and parks committee, suggested electric vehicles are becoming more popular and it would make sense to have the charging stations spread throughout the region.
"Whether or not there ought to be something in the Tri-Cities, I'd say probably at least one station," she said.
In March, the province announced $2.74 million for a fund that would see 570 EV stations built in publicly accessible locations around B.C. The Community Charging Infrastructure Fund will be allocated as a grant to cover up to 75 per cent of the cost of equipment and labour to a maximum of $4,000 per installation.
A Metro Vancouver report noted the district was exploring eight public EV charging sites and was seeking to apply to the province for funds to implement the project.
A few sites have already been identified, including Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver and Burnaby Lake Park. The regional district will evaluate additional potential sites based on visibility, anticipated usage, practicality, availability of utilities and costs. The evaluation of sites is expected to be completed this month in order to meet a June application deadline.
The EV equipment must be installed by March 31, 2013, or the unused funds go back to the province.
It's expected the average cost to install a single charging system will be $8,000, with electricity costs estimated to be $1 per day.
Robinson said rather than the city take the project on itself, she would prefer that Metro Vancouver take the lead with Coquitlam as a possible partner.
"If there's money to be tapped in from the province and we're considering doing this, can we get in on this opportunity?" she asked, noting many of the details still need to be worked out before an EV station comes to the Tri-Cities. Coquitlam city staff are also looking at the Metro Vancouver proposal and are expected to report back to council.
At least one Coquitlam car dealership that offers an electric vehicle would welcome a charging station.
Rob Walker, assistant general sales manager for Eagle Ridge GM, noted the demand for its EV, the Chevrolet Volt, continues to increase.
"I think in the next three to five years, there's going to be a ton of them [electric vehicles] around and charging stations could be a big plus," he said, adding every Volt that rolls through the dealership's doors is sold.
He noted the dealership has two charging stations available for customers, but indicated many owners are choosing to install the charging system right in their home.
Walker said it takes about eight hours to charge a Volt through a regular outlet, but with a charging system, that time gets reduced to about three hours.
Metro Vancouver estimates the eight stations in the pilot project would save 30,000 litres of gas annually and $42,000, while reducing 70 tonnes of greenhouse gas.