Haliburton County council passed its 2021 budget last week.

Looking at locations for charging stations

By Chad Ingram

The County of Haliburton and its four, lower-tier townships are considering funding applications and locations for electric vehicle charging stations.

County council received a report from climate change co-ordinator Korey McKay during a March 24 meeting. As McKay’s report indicated, a federal funding program is making $130 million available until 2024, covering 50 per cent of costs for charging infrastructure, up to a maximum of $5,000 per port.

What are known as Level 2 charging stations come with one or two ports, the latter meaning that two vehicles can be charged simultaneously.

“Dual ports are more commonly installed since most costs are the same for single or dual port stations: equipment, installation and maintenance,” the report read. “ … Charging infrastructure is to be installed in locations that are owned by the county or local municipalities to be eligible for funding. Ideal locations include those that can be used to charge corporate vehicles, employee vehicles and/or those that can be used for the community and tourists while using recreation facilities, or visiting local retail, restaurant and entertainment spots.”

Six suggested locations included the Minden Hills arena; the Minden Hills township office; the Dysart et al branch of the Haliburton County Public Library; the Dysart municipal office/arena; the stretch of North Shore Road containing the Algonquin Highlands township office and other facilities; and Lloyd Watson Community Centre in Wilberforce. The report suggested two ports per location save the Minden Hills township office, where four ports were recommended. Since the Minden Hills and County of Haliburton office properties are abutting, it was suggested this project would be a partnership between the two.

As for the funding framework, the report contained two options. One option entails using The Ivy Network, jointly owned by Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation. Under that option there would be no upfront costs for municipalities, but an average annual servicing fee of $3,300 for each two-portal station. The report indicated service would range between $2,400 and $4,000, depending on the location of the charging stations.

The cost of electricity would come in addition to this, at approximately $1 to $2.50 per hour. This cost is typically recouped from the public via user fees. Installation would take place in summer or fall of this year.

A second option would entail the municipalities themselves owning the charging stations. Dual-port Level 2 charging stations cost between $15,000 and $25,000, with up to $10,000 of this expenditure recoverable through the funding program. Ongoing service costs would be between $500 and $1,800 per unit per year, with the cost of electricity covered through user fees. Installation would take place between September of 2021 and September of 2023.

Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden Liz Danielsen questioned the suggestion that the charging stations at the Minden Hills office be a partnership between the township and the county.

“The county itself might consider an alternate location for their own purposes,” Danielsen said.

“The rationale behind that was the county has already purchased one plug-in vehicle, and may be making a recommendation shortly for another,” said county planner and deputy chief administrative officer Charlsey White. “So, if we were to park here, w would automatically be taking two of those [portals] during the day, and then not on the weekend.”

If Minden Hills begins converting its fleet to electric vehicles, it would then have two portals available to it, White said.

“So we thought two [stations] side-by-side and reduce the cost of the electrical hookup,” she said, adding the stations could then be used by the public after work hours and on weekends.

“This metamorphosis … it’s going to happen in the next couple of year faster than most people are foreseeing,” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin of the transition to electric vehicles. Devolin wondered if the county and municipalities could take advantage of both funding options.

“I’m just thinking in Minden Hills, I’m thinking of some other properties that would geographically dot them across the region,” he said. “So, I guess I’m greedy in this. I think the need’s coming that we’re going to need a lot more than this.”

McKay said the county had placeholders for both funding program options for the time being, nine and seven, respectively.

“One station has two ports on each, so that’s a lot of places to plug in,” she said. “And I did get comments that even the amount we’re suggesting is a lot for a rural area, but I do agree it’s coming, and it’s coming fast, but we do have both amounts reserved, so, technically, yes.”

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said in her township, there have been discussions about multiple locations where charging stations could potentially be installed.

“We have talked about putting one in the North Shore strip, because we would also like to move toward electric vehicles and be able to charge up for staff vehicles,” Moffatt said. “But we also have the airport and we have Dorset, the village of Dorset is a very, very busy place. So we also have a number of opportunities and locations we’d like to look at.”

Moffatt said Algonquin Highlands would be using modernization funding from the province for the purchase of charging stations.

“Is this a one-off, to get it off the ground, or will this be an ongoing collaboration through the county?” she asked.

McKay said there would be more rounds of funding applications before the current program ends in 2024. “So this is not a one shot, but it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of while it’s right here and reserved for us,” she said.

White suggested municipalities each selecting a location, running a station for a year to see what the real costs are, and then going from there.

Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts said charging stations have been discussed by her lower-tier council, and wondered about issues of time limits, and whether or not a fee should be imposed or stations should be free to the public.

Highlands East Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall said he knew of communities where as an incentive, businesses hand out vouchers for charging stations to customers.

Minden Hills Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell said she thought there should be a user fee to at least cover the cost of electricity. “When you’re charging, for example, at the community centre in Minden, somebody has to pay for that, and I don’t think that should necessarily go across the whole tax base, when it could be a fee-for-use service,” Schell said.

It was ultimately decided that the issue would be taken to each of the lower-tier council tables for discussion.