The Ontario government is looking to make changes to the province’s 20-year-old Condominium Act to encourage greater penetration of electric vehicles.
As more people in urban areas are living in apartment buildings or condominiums, the Ontario government is finding the laws governing them are not welcoming to those who want to own the non-emitting cars. When condo owners or tenants make formal requests to building management or strata councils for permission to install a charging station, they are regularly rejected, even when offering to pay for the installation themselves.
The rejections are usually made on the grounds that the installation of charging stations would result in additional costs, negatively impact other units or diminish the appearance of the building.
A shortage of charging stations is viewed by the government as a major barrier to achieving their legislated target of electric vehicles (EVs) constituting five percent of all vehicles sold by 2020. In March, the province missed its own deadline of having 500 such stations up and running by about a third.
Research shows that most people prefer to charge their vehicles overnight at home when the vehicle is not in use and, with respect to Ontario electricity pricing, when the cost of electricity is cheapest. And in the future, any use of EVs as an energy storage reservoir for intermittent renewable energy sources, as well as scheduling for smart balancing of electricity supply and demand, will depend on a much wider installation of home-based charging infrastructure.
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services this week is convening meetings with condo groups and electric vehicle stakeholders to investigate how the act can be changed to support greater zero-emissions-vehicle uptake.
California legislation requires that condo corporations permit installation of charging stations so long as the users pay for the install and maintenance of the facility and the electricity used.
British Columbia’s Climate Leadership Plan, released in 2016, pledged new regulations to give municipalities the power to require that any new buildings install electric vehicle charging stations. The plan also outlined intentions to permit but not require apartments and condominiums to do the same. It remains to be seen whether a new government will adhere to these plans or enhance them.
Metro Vancouver offers guidance on the steps required to install a charging station once permission is received, but the city admits that it is a complex process, and the Condominium Home Owners’ Association of BC has put together a guide in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mines on options for installation.
Researchers meanwhile are investigating other possibilities than home-based charging such as banks of charging stations in workplace parking lots, and even wireless charging roads that charge vehicles on the go. But some of these solutions remain in their infancy.
Bicycles likewise face similar challenges in such buildings. While bikes are even less emissions-intensive over their life-time than electric cars, some jurisdictions continue to allow building managers or strata councils to prohibit tenants or owners from bringing bicycles into their units.
Energy economist Mark Jaccard helped design BC’s carbon tax, and he still supports it. But he questions just how politically viable a stringent tax—at the level needed to meet climate targets—can really be. So he also continues to explore how other policies that the public find more acceptable could work.