(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

Abbotsford developers could be required to install electric vehicle chargers into new buildings

Installing EV infrastructure much cheaper during building process than afterwards

Townhouse and apartment developers in Abbotsford may soon be required to include electric-vehicle charging outlets for every new residential unit they build.

Many Metro Vancouver municipalities already require builders to outfit parking stalls with EV infrastructure beyond rudimentary 120-volt plugins.

Now, Abbotsford is considering whether to follow suit, with staff recommending that each new multi-family parking space created be able to charge electric vehicles overnight.

Although such a requirement would cost developers up front, a staff presentation says it is far cheaper to outfit parking stalls at construction rather than retrofitting them on demand. With B.C. having passed legislation requiring all vehicles sold in the province to be zero-emission by 2040, such a move would spare stratas and building owners down the line.

Installing charging stations into existing buildings can cost upwards of $7,000 per stall, a city advisory committee was told this week. But installing charging infrastructure during construction can be done at one-third of the cost – or less.

“It’s costly and complicated to retrofit charging into multifamily buildings,” consultant Brendan McEwan told the city’s Development, Transportation and Infrastructure Advisory Committee on Thursday.

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The committee endorsed the idea, while offering suggestions on its implementation – including suggesting a pilot program test out the rules.

The topic is still at the consultation stage, the committee heard, and any proposed new rules would have to be approved by city council before becoming official policy.

McEwan told the committee that a household outlet provides only enough electricity to drive five to seven kilometres for each hour a car is plugged in. With a more-advanced outlet, like those that would be required in new apartment and townhouse complexes, drivers could get 20 to 100 kilometres of range, per hour of charging.

Many electrical systems can allow several vehicles to charge from the same circuit. But when that happens, each vehicle may charge at a slower rate. The rules would need to be crafted in a fashion to ensure there are enough suitable circuits in a parkade or parking lot to ensure minimum levels of charging that would allow vehicles to get a full overnight charge most of the time.

The requirements would also need take into account the fact that Abbotsford residents drive their vehicles more than people in, say, downtown Vancouver, and thus will need to charge their vehicles overnight.

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