aerial view of Granville Island, Vancouver
Vancouver’s city council will debate a proposal in May that could see a $10,000 annual fee slapped on gas stations and parking lots that do not have electric vehicle charging stations.

A Vancouver city staff report recommends the fee to boost the number of public EV charging locations in the city. The fee, which will apply to both gas stations and parking lots without EV chargers, would take effect in 2025

Vancouver’s city council will debate a proposal in May that could see a $10,000 annual fee slapped on gas stations and parking lots that do not have electric vehicle charging stations.

A business license currently in the city costs $263 for a gas station and $163 for parking lots. But if these sites don’t offer EV chargers to customers by 2025, they will be forced to pay the higher $10,000 price.

The aim of the new proposal, says city staff, is to “encourage and accelerate EV uptake and adoption.”

“At present, there are 66 gas stations and 366 commercial parking lots licensed to operate in Vancouver,” reads the staff referral report titled Encouraging EV Charging at Gas Stations and Parking Lots. “The recommendations in this report aim to encourage owners of gas stations and commercial parking lots to install EV charging where people are accustomed to fuelling up and parking.”

In order to meet the proposed requirements, gas stations would need to provide a minimum of 50 kilowatts of charging power for one DC fast charger. Parking lots would be required to have at least 26.6 kilowatts, which would be enough to power four Level 2 chargers. Exemptions would be applied to marine service stations and parking lots with less than 60 stalls.

“The specified power output for each business type is structured based on typical dwelling times of their customers,” explains the report.

“The requirement for gas stations assumes that in most cases one DC fast charger is an optimal minimum standard, while parking lots are typically more suited to larger numbers of Level 2 chargers. Having fast charging at gas stations would be beneficial because it would offer a higher turnover rate for their limited parking areas.”

Business case for EV chargers

In the report, city staff cited that businesses would be responsible for paying for the upfront costs of installing the chargers, which could potentially be a significant financial challenge for many site hosts.

To build the charging stations is an estimated $136,000 for gas stations and $100,000 for parking lots (the report does not clarify how many chargers this will be per station). But despite the high costs, staff estimates that businesses could see a return on their infrastructure investment in about seven to eight years.

“In addition to being able to charge customers for the use of the EV chargers, gas station and parking lot owners would be eligible to receive Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits [through B.C.’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program] for selling electricity through EV chargers,” reads the report.

Site hosts could also take advantage of the different avenues of funding dedicated to helping businesses set up EV chargers at workplaces that is provided by the British Columbia and federal governments.

Through CleanBC’s rebate program, workplaces can get a rebate of up to $2,000 per charger to purchase and install Level 2 EV chargers, to a maximum of $14,000. Meanwhile, Natural Resource Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program funds up to 50 per cent of total project costs, to a maximum of $5,000 per connector, for Level 2 chargers, and up to 50 per cent of costs, to a maximum of $50,000 per charger, for the installation of DC fast chargers with 50kW to 99kW of power.

Public charging still limited

Though British Columbia leads North America with the highest reported uptake of zero-emission vehicles of any jurisdiction, according to the province’s 2021 Zero-Emission Vehicle Update, the staff referral report says limited public charging options remain a significant barrier to adoption .

Specifically, the report points to a 2021 survey commissioned by the City of Vancouver Climate Emergency Parking Program, where 59 per cent of respondents identified the lack of charging infrastructure as a reason why they would not choose to buy an EV.

“While this survey is not representative of all Vancouverites, it had over 12,000 responses,” says the report.

“Many residents, including renters, are not able to install charging at home. Increasing the public EV charging network on private land would reduce barriers to EV adoption.”

Currently, the report notes, only two gas stations and roughly 60 parking lots provide EV charging in Vancouver.

No other Canadian city or province is known to be considering a policy similar to this, but Germany has made it mandatory for all petrol stations to offer EV charging, as part of an initiative in the country’s €130 billion economic recovery plan in 2020.

At the time, the move was met with universal praise from EV industry advocates as a way to provide a significant boost to electric vehicle demand. According to BDEW, Germany’s association for the energy and water industry, the country would need at least 70,000 charging stations and 7,000 fast-charging stations to achieve a mass market for EVs.

A public hearing on the Vancouver proposal is scheduled for May 19 at Vancouver City Hall.