A downtown makeover proved the perfect opportunity to integrate new charging station infrastructure into the town’s fabric. Coupled with an EV mandate for the local Ford plant and a major order for electric city buses, Oakville is embracing a zero-emission future
Canadian municipalities looking for a case study in integrated, smart urban planning for electric vehicle infrastructure have a new example to emulate: Oakville, Ont.
Situated 40 kilometres west of Toronto, Oakville has spent two years and $20 million revitalizing the town’s main street. One of the driving goals was to make the urban centre EV-friendly through the installation of 16 Level 2 chargers with two designated parking spots per station.
The main street project, in turn, is part of a larger municipality-wide initiative. In total, there are now 23 dual public charging stations across Oakville. The chargers were supplied by ChargePoint and are funded by a $220,000 grant as part of the federal government’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program.
“We looked at current EV ownership, but also focused on how we could promote increased adoption of EVs in the community in the future. A significant amount of residents could not confidently locate EV charging stations in Oakville before the project,” writes Michelle Tadique, senior communications advisor for the Town of Oakville, in an email to Electric Autonomy Canada.
The main street scheme originated with a recognition that necessary roadworks presented a prime opportunity to integrate the charging technology into the streetscape.
“Curbside EV stations were identified publicly as a planned component of the Lakeshore Road project as early as December 2017,” writes Tadique. “The reconstruction of Lakeshore provided the opportunity to install the EV charging infrastructure and stations on Lakeshore Road itself, including addressing any needed upgrades to power supply.”
The value of that foresight can be seen in the growth in EV purchases in Oakville since. In 2019, Ministry of Transport data showed a total of 1,811 battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered in the community, more than double the amount in 2017. In fact, the community now has one of the highest levels of EV ownership in Ontario.
The planning effort also has enthusiastic support from Oakville MP Anita Anand, its champion on Parliament Hill.
“I understand the importance of building infrastructure to better support the use of zero emission vehicles — my family drives one,” writes Anand in a statement to Electric Autonomy Canada. “The upgrade to Oakville’s infrastructure will ensure that more residents in our community can drive and charge their electric vehicles more seamlessly.”
A bigger story
The new chargers aren’t the only exciting EV news to come out of Oakville lately. Last summer, the town announced that it is purchasing 57 electric buses to be delivered through 2026. And in September, automaker Ford Canada and the union Unifor struck a deal that will see Ford’s Oakville plant upgraded to produce five electric vehicle models starting in 2025.
“Our Oakville community is committed to being a part of Canada’s clean energy future,” says Anand. “Our government continues to support green infrastructure projects that will make the adoption of zero-emission vehicles easier for Canadians in the transition to a low-carbon future. Investments in sustainable transportation are critical to building healthy, sustainable communities where we can all thrive.”