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Electric car chargers planned for regional parks

Public plug-in stations aim to fan trend to zero-emission travel
Echo Lin holds an electric car charging cable beside a Tesla electric roadster that was on display outside Metro Vancouver headquarters June 6. Metro Vancouver has promised to install up to eight charging stations in regional parks.

Publicly accessible charging stations for electric cars will be set up in select Metro Vancouver regional parks.

The regional district plans to spend $64,000 setting up six to eight stations where electric vehicles can be plugged in while their owners enjoy a park visit.

Air quality planner Eve Fichot said Pacific Spirit, Boundary Bay and Capilano River regional parks are among those under early consideration for charging stations.

"We're looking at ones that have a high visitor rate," she said.

A Metro report also indicates Burnaby Lake Regional Park, Metro's head office in Burnaby and the Annacis Wastewater Treatment Plant are other likely locations for public charging spots.

Metro environment and parks committee chair Heather Deal said the concept is to make it easy and convenient to recharge car batteries.

She said the more charging stations exist – particularly in areas where drivers tend to park for extended periods – the more viable electric cars become and the less owners worry about running out of power.

"The easier you make it, the more convenient you make it, the more pleasant you make it, the more likely it is that people will actually decide to make this change in their lives," Deal said.

Half of the cost is to be covered by the province's $2.74 million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund, which will finance 570 stations across B.C.

The 240-volt level 2 charging stations need four to six hours to fully charge an electric vehicle's battery, but an hour or two typically provides enough of a top up to travel another 20 to 40 kilometres.

Metro already has 14 charging stations installed at its Burnaby offices and Lake City operations centre for its own fleet of electric vehicles.

Metro won't attempt to charge users for the power, which it estimates will cost the region $1 per stall per day.

Some Metro directors were concerned about the optics of providing free fuel.

But officials argue it supports the sustainability of the region.

Designated stalls will be marked for electric vehicles only.

A handful of public charging stations exist in Vancouver but Fraser Basin Council spokesman Jim Vanderwal said the provincial fund will subsidize businesses and other agencies to sponsor charging stations at other points in the Lower Mainland.