empty parking space in parking garage with paint reading 'electric only charge station'
In a bid to make electric vehicle charging more accessible in Vancouver, city council has unanimously approved a motion that requires all gas stations and parking lots with more than 60 stalls to have EV charging onsite or pay an annual license fee of $10,000 starting in 2025.

After a round of public engagement and some debate about the merits of putting electric vehicle chargers at gas stations as well as parking lots, the case for accessibility won out and the policy passed with unanimous council support

In a bid to make electric vehicle charging more accessible in Vancouver, city council has unanimously approved a motion that requires all gas stations and parking lots with more than 60 stalls to have EV charging onsite or pay an annual license fee of $10,000 starting in 2025.

To comply with the new regulations, which were first bought forward in a report to council by city staff in April, gas stations must install at least one DC fast charger with a minimum of 50 kilowatts of charging speed. Parking lots will need to set up at least four Level 2 chargers, with at least 26.6 kilowatts of power.

Vancouver businesses that comply with the EV charging rules will pay a nominal annual license fee of $243 for gas stations and $163 for commercial parking lots.

Reducing barriers

Many city councillors said they supported adding EV charging at these sites to increase charging visibility and reduce barriers to EV adoption — especially for residents who do not have the opportunity to charge at home.

“I think there are a lot of people who really need to know that there was public charging available in a variety of locations and I think that that gives them the comfort to be able to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Councillor Adriane Carr during the council’s public engagement meeting held earlier this month.

“Because many people live in condos in this city, and that infrastructure is not in place within condos. I’m very supportive of these measures. I think it will help move us towards the transition that we need to which is towards the electrification of transportation.”

Councillor Michael Wiebe said he would like to see the regulation stretch even further to get EV chargers at park board facilities, pools, community centres and parking lots.

“We have the ability to attract people to public spaces, so, thanks a lot to staff, and I support continue[ing] to find ways to make this happen.”

Why gas stations?

During the public engagement hearing, software developer and EV owner Tim Bray called in and said that he “totally supports” the new guidelines in parking lots, but called the case for putting chargers in gas stations “really weak.”

“In a very high proportion of times, you’re going to need more than 15 minutes of charge time. Gas stations are entirely designed for stays of less than five minutes. This will be unpleasant for the driver and the gas station operator,” said Bray.

“Charging is an activity that should be accomplished while you’re doing something, not just sitting there.”

Bray suggested chargers in malls and shopping venues will be better suited because they are places where people spend more time. He also noted the charging speeds of 50 kilowatts for gas stations to be “unsatisfying” and would rather see speeds of 100 kilowatts charging instead.

“Please do this,” he told the council. “Do it in parking lots, not gas stations. Do L2 and [DC fast chargers] in the parking lots. Make the number of chargers proportional to the number of spaces and please do it with modern chargers.”

Ian Neville, senior sustainability specialist at the City of Vancouver, told Electric Autonomy Canada that one of the reasons why gas stations were chosen to be part of the new policy was to enable access to chargers in more underserved areas of the city.

“I think one of the big pushes around the gas station side of it is they are fairly well spread out across the city. So they are a good way to help us get a more evenly distributed public charging network, which is definitely one of the goals of this is to get more equitable access to charging.”

Neville says East Vancouver and particularly Southeast Vancouver are areas the city would like to see an increase of EV chargers in.

“That’s an area that we’re focusing on with our public charging as well but obviously those areas would do well to have more private sector operators providing it”

Review planned in 2026

After listening to Bray’s remarks, Councillor Christine Boyle still felt that adding charging options at gas stations would be an important step in the city’s overall commitment to rolling out a robust public EV charging network.

“In Vancouver, gas stations are close to many other places and I certainly don’t think it would be a problem to go and [charge] at a gas station for a half-hour and walk and get a coffee or a stroll along Broadway or Burrard [St.] or wherever to use up that time,” said Councillor Boyle.

“I look forward to the greater accessibility to these types of public stations that will allow more people who can’t go car-free and who need to have a car to make it an electric car.”

Councillor Lisa Dominato put forward an amendment, which was approved, that will require city staff to submit a formal report during the second quarter of 2026 on the results and use of the new chargers.

“I think it’s really helpful from a governance standpoint that we do get the formal report back on how the implementation is gone, what the uptake has been, what are some opportunities that have come that we’ve learned from it, and maybe what are some challenges,” said councillor Dominato.

Climate action a factor

Besides accessibility, the new regulations were also motivated by the city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, under which Vancouver is committed to cutting its carbon emissions by 50 per cent from 2007 levels by 2030.

The city would also like to see half the vehicle kilometres travelled to be through zero-emission vehicles by 2030, says Neville. 

“Given the gasoline and diesel account for about 40 per cent of our emissions right now, if we can have that or more, that’s obviously a significant impact on our ability to reduce our emissions.”

Margarita Pacis, a policy analyst for the city of Vancouver said during a staff presentation to city council that “A significant intervention is necessary to increase EV charging on private land. The recommendations in this report could be a strong policy tool to encourage investment at these important sites.”

Pacis noted that the substantial $10,000 annual penalty that businesses will face if they fail to install charging infrastructure is intended to motivate behaviour.

“We tested through a consultant’s analysis that showed that a higher fee was needed to encourage behaviour change such that businesses would install charging. A fee that’s too low would likely not encourage that behaviour change and that’s really the goal of this policy is to change behaviour and encourage charging. It’s not to raise revenue,” said Pacis.

Exemptions will be applied to marine service stations and parking lots with less than 60 stalls.

Doubling of chargers

Currently, there are around 66 gas stations and almost 400 parking lots in Vancouver. City staff said that even if only 21 gas stations and 80 parking lots choose to install chargers, it will double the number of DC fast chargers and Level 2 charging in Vancouver by 2030.

The estimated costs for setting up to one DC fast charger are $136,000 and $100,000 for four Level 2 chargers, says city staff. Businesses can expect cost returns in about eight years by charging customers for power. This will also make the business eligible to receive Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits through B.C.’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program.

Through the CleanBC Go Electric EV Charger Rebate and Fleets programs, the B.C. government also recently announced it was increasing its rebate program for a limited time. The program now covers up to 75 per cent of costs to purchase and install fast-charging stations, to a maximum of $75,000. This is an increase from the previous 50 per cent coverage.

1 comment
  1. I’m not sure where the pricing are coming from. $100 000 for 4x level 2 is outrageously high and the $136 000 per DCFC is unheard of. Gas station owners will have a surprise when realizing the real cost of 150kW+ DCFC after a new electrical service drop, civil work, installation, permits, and project management.

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