Ontario government commits its first public money — $91 million — to EV chargers
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EV Charging
Mar 25, 2022
Mehanaz Yakub

The funding will be used to finance DC fast charger and Level 2 charger installations across Ontario, with a portion of the money earmarked to bring EV chargers to rural communities

The Conservative government of Ontario is investing $91 million for public charging infrastructure, a first since Premier Doug Ford took office in 2018.

The funding will be used to finance DC fast charger and Level 2 charger installations across Ontario, with a portion of the money earmarked to bring EV chargers to rural communities

The Ontario government is committing $91 million toward installing both DC fast chargers and Level 2 chargers at highway rest stops, carpool parking lots, provincial and municipal parks and hockey arenas, announced the Ministry of Transportation.

In conjunction with this announcement, the government said it is launching a Rural Connectivity Fund, dedicated to helping rural municipalities access provincial money to bring chargers into their communities.

“This investment is the next step forward that will help fill gaps in public charging infrastructure and strengthen Ontario’s position as a leader in battery electric vehicle production,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation in a press release.

“Providing all Ontarians with convenient, public access to fast and reliable charging will help us move towards our goal of making Made-in-Ontario electric vehicles the top choice for both passenger and commercial drivers.”

Details to follow

Details about the new program, including eligibility, possible charger sites and how rural communities can apply, will be announced later this year.

A spokesperson from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation told Electric Autonomy Canada in an emailed statement that the funding “will be used to build level 2 and level 3 EV chargers based on the needs of each location. The program will assist with installing the right types of chargers (i.e., level 2 vs. DC fast chargers) at the right locations to maximize EV uptake.”

The spokesperson also clarified that the Rural Connectivity Fund will draw from the same $91-million pool in the primary announcement.

That financing will also be used to develop business cases for deploying electric and low-emission vehicles in the Ontario Public Service fleet and the GO Transit network servicing the Greater Toronto Area.

“Our government is getting shovels in the ground to build critical EV charging infrastructure across our province so workers and families can travel with confidence,” said Todd Smith, minister of energy in a press statement.

“[The] investment in new public charging stations, alongside our work to reduce electricity prices and provide an ultra-low overnight electricity price plan, will support EV adoption and boost our world-leading auto sector.”

Pivoting to EVs

With just over two months before the provincial election, this is the first time the Ford government has committed to building charging stations for EVs using government funding since it took office in 2018, confirmed a spokesperson from the Ministry of Transportation in an email to Electric Autonomy.

There are more than 1,800 public charging stations with over 5,000 charging ports in Ontario. Late last year, Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One’s joint venture — Ivy Charging Network — unveiled a plan to install 69 chargers at all 23 ONroute locations along Ontario’s 401 and 400 highways, in partnership with Canadian Tire and the Ministry of Transportation. The project, however, is not funded directly by the province.

The $91-million pledge for EV chargers is one of several recent announcements made by Premier Ford about pivoting the Ontario auto sector to produce electric vehicles.

Earlier this week, Stellantis and LG Energy Solution announced a $5-billion joint venture to build Canada’s first large-scale EV battery cell manufacturing plant, to be located in Windsor. The project will receive substantial provincial and federal funding and Premier Ford, along with federal cabinet ministers and other government officials, was on hand for the announcement.

Also, last week, Ontario and Ottawa each agreed to invest $132 million as part of the announcement from Honda Canada that it will retooling its Alliston, Ont., plant to begin production of non-plug-in hybrid vehicles. However, those vehicles are not considered electric as their only fuel source is gasoline.

Phase 2 of the province’s automotive strategy, unveiled last year, includes a goal for Ontario to manufacture at least 400,000 electric and hybrid-electric vehicles by 2030. The government’s plan doesn’t include EV purchase rebates for consumers, however. It eliminated those in 2018 (as well as removing installed chargers and deleting charging station requirements in the provincial building code) and recently minister of economic development, job creation and trade, Vic Fedeli, told Electric Autonomy Canada that it has no plans to bring them back.

Supply-side emphasis

“Our government’s position is that we want to be on the supply side of the ledger,” said Fedeli. “We will be doing everything that we possibly can to invest billions of dollars in the supply side in, because that’s where the jobs are.”

As of Feb. 2022, there were 75,274 registered EVs in Ontario — with an overall provincial adoption rate of 3.3 per cent in 2021, which is well below the national average of 5.6 per cent.

By 2030, the Ford government aims to have one out of every three cars sold in the province be electric, with over one million EVs on the road.

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