The $2.8-million electrification plan follows an earlier pilot and puts the city on track to have the largest hybrid ambulance fleet in Canada
More than 100 Toronto ambulances are being converted to hybrid electric drivetrain systems from diesel, thanks to a joint $2.8-million investment from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the city’s Environment and Energy division.
The partners announced the plan on Aug. 21. The federal government is contributing $1.1 million from its Low Carbon Economy Fund while Toronto will draw its $1.7-million portion from the city’s Sustainable Energy Financing Plan.
A total of 104 ambulances will undergo hybrid conversions, joining the 11 hybrid ambulances the service introduced in 2018. In addition, a portion of the new funds will be used to outfit 215 ambulances and 60 emergency paramedic response units with solar panels to power and recharge critical on-board medical equipment.
When the new equipment is in place, the GHG emissions reduction will equal a total of 2,900 cars being off the road for a year. The solar panels have an estimated life span of 20 years, while the drivetrain system can last 12 years.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Gord McEachen, acting chief of Toronto Paramedic Services, noted that the initiative is in step with the city’s TransformTO pledge to be net zero in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“This investment provides an incredible opportunity to meet some of our long-term sustainability goals,” McEachen said. “Toronto Paramedic Services is greening our fleet to reduce our carbon footprint for the future well-being of all Torontonians, including youth aspiring to be paramedics.”
The job of doing the hybrid conversions and solar panel installation has been contracted to Rowland Emergency and Speciality Vehicles, based in Mississauga, Ont.
“This project will help the City of Toronto protect the environment and improve air quality while growing our economy,” added Marco E.L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who appeared at the announcement on behalf of ECCC minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
Several other jurisdictions have undertaken similar initiatives, including Oxford County and Essex-Windsor, both in Ontario, as well as British Columbia Emergency Health Services, which has hybrid ambulances operating in Vancouver and surrounding communities.