Simon Fraser unveils two new accessible Level 2 EV chargers at Burnaby campus
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EV Charging
Feb 15, 2024
Josh Kozelj

The additions come as the university experiences high charger demand and explores partnership opportunities with businesses to provide overnight charging on campus

Simon Fraser University has opened its first two accessible EV charging stalls on campus, a move the school hopes will address a major infrastructure gap within Greater Vancouver. Photo: SFU

The additions come as the university experiences high charger demand and explores partnership opportunities with businesses to provide overnight charging on campus

Simon Fraser University (SFU) has opened two accessible EV charging stalls on campus, a move it hopes will address a major infrastructure gap at the school and within Greater Vancouver.

The two spaces, which are reserved for people with accessibility needs, debuted in December and are open to both the campus community and public. The spots are one part of a new charging initiative introduced last summer that added 14 Level 2 ports to the school’s Burnaby campus.

SFU now has 20 Level 2 chargers and 62 Level 1 chargers across four parkades at SFU.

The installation of the two accessible charging spots came after SFU realized it lacked space for drivers with accessibility needs, says David Agosti, SFU’s director of parking and sustainable mobility services, in an interview with Electric Autonomy.

“That sent us a down a path of discovery,” Agosti says. “What we discovered in researching is that we couldn’t find anything: regulations, best practices, outlines [of accessible EV chargers]. We couldn’t find example implementations.”

As EV ownership becomes more widespread, some cities and organizations are looking at ways to add accessible chargers to their networks.

In 2022, BC Hydro announced plans to make its fast charging network fully accessible, following a similar initiative made by Hydro-Québec. More recently, in January, Electric Autonomy reported that at least two municipalities, Gananonque, Ont., and Delta, B.C., were looking to add accessible EV chargers.

SFU’s installation of accessible chargers is an ongoing process, Agosti said. But one he hopes serves as a template for other groups including city designers, provincial planners or shopping mall creators.

“We’re trying to pilot this thing, get experiences from users themselves,” Agosti said.

Examining the early feedback

Before launching its first two accessible parking spaces, SFU hired a Vancouver-based design firm, EDG, to provide accessible charger design recommendations.

The firm compiled the school’s existing guidelines on EV charging and accessible parking, respectively. EDG then came up with a design — two accessible stalls that are 1.5 times larger than a regular parking space — with feedback from the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Along with more space than a traditional parking spot, the accessible spaces also have a corridor between them to make it easier for people who use a walker or wheelchair to plug in their vehicles.

So far, the accessible spots have created some confusion for drivers, Agosti said.

In Metro Vancouver, all EV charging stalls are painted green, while accessible spots are coloured blue.

SFU painted its accessible EV stalls green, but has signs around the stalls indicating they are only for drivers with a SPARC placard (a permit that allows drivers to park in accessible parking spots).

“We initially had a real challenge with EVs not driven by people with accessibility needs using those spaces,” Agosti said, adding that the university is in the process of adding more accessibility signs around the stalls.

“In hindsight, that kind of makes sense,” he said. “When you’re doing something new, you’re never going to be able to think of everything.”

Accessible EV charging, overnight

The addition of accessible chargers comes as SFU is experiencing a high overall demand for EV charging.

Last year, before the new hub launched in July, each of the charging ports on campus was in use almost half the time not just during daylight hours, but including evenings and weekends.

“Forty per cent of the time someone was not just plugged in, but actively charging,” Agosti says.

To compliment the active daytime usage, SFU is currently investigating the potential of working with fleets to offer them overnight charging on campus. While SFU has not pinpointed a partner fleet yet, Agosti says, there are multiple avenues that the school is exploring.

“Fleets is a big definition,” he says. “It could be car sharing, it could be food delivery, or small entrepreneurs like plumbers and electricians who want to electrify their work vehicle. So, nothing to announce, but we’re working on it.”

Coupled with the addition of accessible chargers, Agosti says SFU hopes its charging expansion sparks collaboration between the school and other businesses or municipalities.

“A university is a city within a city,” Agosti says.

“We’re looking to act as that testbed for regions, municipalities and organizations.”

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