Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Smiths Falls Youth Arena gets a jolt with addition of four new EV charging stations

EV charging stations coming to Youth Arena in Smiths Falls. – Photo via Unsplash

The Smiths Falls Youth Arena will be the site for four EV charging stations, with a grant application being submitted to help cover up to 75 per cent of the cost.

Paul McMunn, the town’s director of public works and utilities, spoke to council on Monday, Jan. 29 during a special committee of the whole meeting.

Originally, McMunn said they looked at three locations across town – at town hall, on Market Street and at the Youth Arena.

“When we did the math, it turns out that we would be funding the total project to the tune of $422,000 of town costs,” McMunn said. “That’s over and above the funding we would get from EV ChargeOn.”

Those costs include the purchase of the chargers, the electrical installation – transformers, switch gears and meters, and upgrades with Hydro One.

McMunn said with the budget being tight, they scaled it back for council approval to apply for a grant by the end of the month to help offset the cost for just one location.

“We just need council’s endorsement to proceed with the application,” he said.

The EV ChargeON program is a competitive, application-based funding program that invites eligible municipalities in Ontario to put forward project proposals that help enhance accessibility and availability of EV charging infrastructure throughout the province to address range anxiety and make long-distance EV travel easier. Municipalities with populations under 170,000 are eligible.

For the Youth Arena, staff are looking to install four Level 2 (19KW) stations at a cost of $64,040.

A maximum funding grant would cover $30,000, with a cost to the town of $34,040.

Coun. Steve Robinson said he supported the ask and said the town needs more EV chargers.

Mayor Shawn Pankow said he thought it was a good start and the arena would be a great spot for those staying for hockey tournaments. “A Level 2 makes a lot of sense for those who may be staying there for multiple hours,” he said.

The mayor said he’d like to see a multi-year approach “until we get to where we need to be,” and have more EV chargers at town hall and on Market Street, and “eventually at other sites around town.”

“As time goes by, the demand is growing,” Pankow said. “Level 3 (20KW) is ideal but based on the cost, the recommendation is fair.”

Coun. Jennifer Miller said it’s also critical from an economic and tourism standpoint.

“I would pick the Market Street location as the place to start,” she said. “If you’re parked in our downtown for a few hours, you can eat and you can shop.”

Coun. Peter McKenna, who chaired the meeting, asked about maintenance costs and the life span of the chargers.

McMunn said they typically have a five- to 10-year life span and there are third-party contractors the town can use for maintenance costs.

“We haven’t really done a full analysis of the annual operating costs,” McMunn said. “We have been in consultation with the City of Ottawa (who has a strategy for implanting EV charging stations), and they’re seeing about six per cent use at their sites for Level 3 chargers [which are] between 10 and 20 per cent site dependent.

“Their usage is low because there are not a whole lot of [electric vehicles] on the roads in this region, McMunn added.

“Between now and the foreseeable future, it’s not going to be a revenue-generating exercise for municipalities to put these chargers in, McMunn said.

There will be ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

Chief administrative officer Malcolm Morris said they have some time for a cost investigation before purchasing the EV chargers.

“There is a revenue-generating element to this as well as a cost to use them,” Morris said, “so we can do some analysis on that.”

Council endorsed McMunn’s recommendation to apply for grant funding before the end of the month.

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