An absence of federal, provincial rules for EV charging in Canada’s condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes punts the issue to municipalities and leaves many owners to fend for themselves, finds Electric Autonomy’s cross-Canada guide to municipal building code regulations for EV charging in MURBs
When it comes to reducing barriers to electric vehicle adoption in Canada, one of the most critical steps governments can do is to help provide access to at-home EV charging.
While this is usually not a complicated undertaking in single-unit dwellings, in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) which includes apartments, condos, strata and townhomes, the situation and the experience is quite varied for Canadian EV drivers depending on the city in which they live.
In Canada, there are no regulations in the national building code that require new or existing condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes to offer EV charging. Provinces and territories are able to create their own building laws and codes, but none have added anything yet to support EV charging. Instead, some municipalities are provided with the latitude by their respective provinces to amend local bylaws and add regulations that will require multi-residential units — both new builds and existing ones — to be EV-ready.
The result is that the experience and process of MURB residents getting EV charging infrastructure access is highly fragmented across Canada.
In order to bring more transparency, Electric Autonomy Canada has compiled a roundup of all the municipalities in Canada with existing regulations that require all new constructions to be EV-ready for the future and those cities that have announced publicly they are considering implementing the same.
The tally shows that 21 cities in British Columbia and one city in both Quebec and Ontario have put in place some EV-ready regulations. There are eight other municipalities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland evaluating their own building code amendments.
No municipalities in Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have any regulations around this. City councils in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Hamilton, Sarnia, Halifax and St. John’s have started looking into it, but no regulations have officially been made.
B.C. is, by far, Canada’s most advanced province in terms of having mandates for EV charging access in condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes, with 20 cities with modified building codes to stipulate EV-readiness requirements and one city in the process of implementing them.
City of Vancouver: Bylaw 10908 – Section 10.2.3. was amended on July 1, 2014, to include provisions for Level 2 EV charging infrastructure at all residential and commercial buildings. On March 14, 2018, the bylaw was updated to raise the percentage of EV-ready parking stalls in MURBs from 20 per cent to 100 per cent. The current bylaw also requires one EV-ready stall for single-family residences with garages and 10 per cent of parking stalls to be EV-ready for commercial buildings.
City of Burnaby: Zoning Bylaw 13903 – Section 800.8, which took effect on September 1st, required Level 2 energized outlets in all new residential parking spaces. This includes both single-family homes and multi-unit residential buildings. Parking spaces for secondary suites and visitor parking are exempt, but all other stalls in new buildings must be 100 per cent EV-ready.
City of Nelson: The city amended its Off-Street Parking and Landscaping Bylaw No. 3274 – Section 7.4 in 2019 to have at least one parking space per dwelling unit feature
Level 2 charging or higher in new single-family and multi-unit residential buildings, starting in 2020. For every 10 parking spaces available at a dwelling, two stalls must have Level 2 charging capabilities.
City of Coquitlam: The Zoning Bylaw No. 4905 – Section 714 was amended on October 29, 2018, to require all new construction, including single-family residences and MURBs, to have a minimum of one energized outlet capable of Level 2 charging or higher for every dwelling unit. Parking spaces designated for visitors are exempt.
If the number of parking spaces is less than the number of dwelling units, all residential parking spots must have an energized outlet with Level 2 or higher charging capabilities.
City of North Vancouver: According to Zoning Bylaw No. 6700 – Section 909, all parking spaces in all new residential multi-family buildings must include Level 2 EV charging infrastructure as of June 2019 and 10 per cent of residential visitor parking spaces must include Level 2 EV charging infrastructure as of Jan. 2022.
District of North Vancouver: Per the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Policy, updated on March 17, 2021, all parking stalls — not including visitor parking — must feature energized outlets capable of providing Level 2 charging or higher for multi-family residences.
City of New Westminster: As of April 1, 2019, all new buildings with at least one residential unit are required to have a Level 2 energized outlet to the residential parking spaces, according to Electric Vehicle Ready Infrastructure Zoning Bylaw 8040, 2018. Energized Level 2 outlets will not be required for visitor parking spaces.
City of Port Moody: Zoning Bylaw No. 2937 – Section 6.11 mandated that all spaces in new residential constructions starting from March 1, 2019, required an energized outlet capable of Level 2 charging. A minimum of 20 per cent of spaces in new commercial constructions from March 1, 2019, required an energized outlet capable of Level 2 charging.
City of Richmond: All new buildings and residential parking spaces from April 1, 2018, excluding those provided for visitors’ use, have had an energized outlet capable of providing Level 2 charging or higher to the parking space, says Zoning Bylaw 8500 – Section 7.15.
District of Saanich: Zoning Bylaw No. 8200 – Section 7 specified that all new residential MURBs are required to provide Level 2 charging after Sept. 1, 2020.
District of Squamish: Bylaw No. 2610, 2018 Subsection 41.11(f) required 100 per cent of off-street parking stalls to have charging infrastructure starting from July 24, 201, in any shared parking areas for multiple-unit residential uses.
City of Surrey: Zoning By-law No. 12000 – Part 5(7) was amended on February 25, 2019 to say builders must construct and install an energized electrical outlet for 100 per cent of residential parking spaces, 50 per cent of visitor parking spaces, and 20 per cent of commercial parking spaces. Each energized electrical outlet must be capable of providing Level 2 or a higher level of electric vehicle charging
District of West Vancouver: Per Zoning Bylaw No. 4662 – Sections 142.10; 141.01(4), new dwelling units, all parking spaces for residential use, except visitor parking, need to include an energized outlet that is: (a) capable of providing Level 2 charging for an electric vehicle; (b) labelled for the use of electric vehicle charging.
City of Victoria: In effect since October 1, 2020, the Zoning Bylaw No. 80-159 – Schedule C Section 2.4 stipulates that all residential parking spaces in new residential developments must have an energized electrical outlet installed that can provide Level 2 charging for an electric vehicle. This requirement applies to both single-family and multi-unit residential dwellings but not visitor parking spaces.
Township of Langley: In Zoning Bylaw No. 2500 – Section 107.3, all new residential construction, including single-home dwellings, townhouses and apartments, required one space per dwelling unit to have EV charging requirements, starting from Nov. 4, 2019.
Town of View Royal: As per Zoning Bylaw No. 900 – Section 5.13, every commercial or multi-unit residential construction with more than 100 parking spots must provide an accessible electric vehicle charging station on the premises for patrons or residents. This bylaw was adopted on Feb. 2021.
Nanaimo: According to the Off-Street Parking Regulations Bylaw No. 7266 – Section 7.7, a minimum of 25 per cent of all off-street parking spots in any common parking area for multifamily residential housing must have shared access to a Level 2 EV charging, and have an electrical outlet box wired with a separate branch circuit capable of supplying electricity to support both Level 1 and Level 2 charging.
Port Coquitlam: For residential buildings that do not have a common parking area, one parking space per dwelling unit is required to provide “roughed-in” charging infrastructure, put in effect on Jan. 23, 2018. This must include an electrical outlet box located within three metres of the unit’s parking space, according to Zoning Bylaw No. 3630 – Section 2.5.10;11. For a residential building with a common parking area, a separate single utility electrical meter and disconnect should be provided in line with the electrical panel(s) intended to provide EV charging located within three metres of the parking space.
Maple Ridge: The city’s Bylaw No. 4350-1990 – Schedule F says for apartments, each parking space provided for residential use, excluding visitor parking spaces, will be required to have roughed-in infrastructure capable of providing Level 2 charging.
Apartments and townhouses with a minimum of 50 per cent of required visitor parking spaces will need partial infrastructure capable of Level 2 charging.
White Rock: The city is currently considering changes to its Zoning Bylaw, 2012, No. 2000. On March 18, 2021, the Environmental Advisory Committee presented recommendations that would require all resident parking stalls to be Level 2 EV-ready in new multi-unit residential buildings and 50 per cent of visitor parking stalls to be Level 2 EV-ready in new multi-unit residential buildings.
Kamloops: The city of Kamloops is looking to draft a zoning amendment bylaw that would require new residential developments, all new single-family, single-family with a secondary suite, two-family, and multi-family residential developments, to have EV-ready parking with one parking stall per dwelling unit, at the beginning of Jan. 1, 2023.
Kamloops’ sustainability services supervisor Glen Cheetham told Electric Autonomy Canada in an email statement that the city’s council has given direction to staff to “conduct one final round of engagement with industry before bringing the zoning amendment bylaw to Council mid-June for first and second reading, followed by a public hearing and third reading/approval.”
No city in Alberta has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes. However, in 2020, a joint study was conducted for the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton to assess EV home and workplace charging.
One of the report recommendations was: “The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton should amend their parking and zoning bylaws to require more EV-ready parking spaces in newly constructed buildings.”
The report recommended that condos make 100 per cent of their parking spaces EV-ready, while in apartment buildings 10 per cent of parking spaces should be EV-ready and the remaining 90 per cent “EV capable.”
A spokesperson for the city of Edmonton explained to Electric Autonomy that the report was not formally presented or discussed at city council.
“Rather, it was used to inform the development of Edmonton’s Electric Vehicle Charger Program, which closed in 2021. The program aimed to increase EV adoption in Edmonton by providing financial incentives to businesses and homeowners for installing EV charging stations on their properties.”
“For commercial and residential buildings, we are exploring ways to encourage EV readiness on new builds but at this point is not mandatory,” said the spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Calgary echoed similar reaction to the report, saying, “Calgary City Council has not debated the report – it was not taken to Council on its own. The intention was to use the report to inform future changes to Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw, in line with the City’s EV and LEV Strategy. In the meantime, the report informs discussions with willing development applicants aimed at voluntary compliance (or partial-compliance) with the report’s recommendations.”
No city in Saskatchewan has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
However, Saskatoon’s manager of climate, strategy and data, Amber Weckworth, told Electric Autonomy in an email that the city will begin developing a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) adoption roadmap within the next month to “investigate and recommend incentives and/or policies that could improve access to EV infrastructure, as well as investigate and recommend methods to address any known Building Code or Zoning challenges with infrastructure.”
The targeted completion date for the roadmap is March 2023.
No city in Manitoba has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
In 2017, the then-Liberal government of Ontario did amend the Ontario Building Code to require 20 per cent of parking spaces in a new single-unit, semi-detached and townhouse building to have EV charging — at the time the only province in Canada to mandate EV charging in buildings at the provincial level.
But that policy move was repealed in 2018 after the Conservative party came into power. Since then the issue has been punted to local governments to decide on.
Toronto: According to the Zoning Bylaw 569-2013, which was amended on Dec. 2021 and the Toronto Green Standard version 4 performance standards for EV Infrastructure, which came into effect in May 2022, all residential parking spaces provided for dwelling units located in an apartment building, mixed-use building, and multiple dwelling unit building, but excluding visitor parking, must include an energized outlet capable of providing Level 2 charging or higher to the parking space.
Mississauga: A corporate report to amend Mississauga’s Zoning By-law 0225-2007 was presented on March 2022 by the city’s commissioner of planning and building to the chair and members of the planning and development committee. The report includes recommendations that would introduce EV-ready parking requirements to the city.
Hamilton: City staff have been asked by the city council to examine how to incorporate requirements for EV charging stations through the parking requirement by-laws in new developments.
Sarnia: The city council of Sarnia asked staff last month to look into the question: should at-home chargers be built into new multi-unit construction?
In Quebec, under the Quebec Construction Code, every new construction for single dwellings equipped with a garage, a carport or a parking area after October 2018 was required to support a Level 2 EV charging station. Like in Ontario, these regulations do not extend to multi-unit residential buildings.
Laval: The Zoning Bylaw No. L-2001-3776 and Building Bylaw No. L-9501 -77 was amended in January 2020 to require 25 per cent of parking spaces have electrical equipment that can accommodate Level 2 EV charging stations at all new constructions of multi-family dwellings of five to 49 units.
In new construction builds for multi-family dwellings of 50 units or more in Laval, 20 per cent of a building’s parking spaces will need to install electrical equipment.
No city in New Brunswick has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
No city in Nova Scotia has implemented regulations for EV charging for MURBs. However, a Halifax city spokesperson told Electric Autonomy in an email that “the Halifax Regional Municipality is working with the Province of Nova Scotia to determine how we can enforce EV Ready criteria in new developments. This enforcement may be in the form of a by-law, charter amendment or building code amendment.”
Prince Edward Island
No city in Prince Edward Island has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
Newfoundland and Labrador
No city in Newfoundland and Labrador has implemented regulations for EV charging for MURBs. However, in 2020, St. John’s city council asked staff to look into adding EV-ready requirements for new residential developments.
“This took place at the same time that a new municipal plan was being reviewed for adoption by the province,” says a spokesperson for St. John’s sustainability coordinator in an email note to Electric Autonomy. “It was decided that this new initiative would be explored as an amendment to the updated municipal plan since it was already in process.”
Since then, the municipal plan was approved by the province and adopted by St. John’s City Council. The city staff is currently in the process of reviewing possible approaches to adding EV charging requirements to parking spaces at new residential developments.
No city in Yukon has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
No city in Northwest Territories has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
No city in Nunavut has implemented regulations for EV charging for condos, apartment buildings, strata or townhomes.
The article focused mainly on new builds. An important challenge is existing buildings. Perhaps some mention of the “right to charge” should have been made.
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