Tesla electric vehicle owner urges town to consider adding charging stations
According to Brian Baker, there’s a “dead zone” that stretches from Newmarket to the south end of Barrie.
It’s an area with only a single Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station, located at Bradford’s Food Basics. With that exception, electric vehicle owners are on their own if they need a boost, except for Level 1 charging stations (the plugs found in any home), that can take 20 to 24 hours to fully recharge a standard 75 kwV battery.
The gap is both a deterrent to visitors with EVs and an opportunity for Bradford, Baker said.
Baker addressed Bradford West Gwillimbury’s Downtown Revitalization Committee Wednesday, urging the town to consider installing EV charging stations in municipal parking lots, especially in the downtown core.
“I take EV charging to heart. I am an EV owner,” Baker said at the meeting. The Bond Head resident not only owns a Tesla Model 3, he is president of Model 3 Club of Canada.
Baker acknowledged that his goal is to push for more charging stations from “coast to coast.”
Newmarket, for example, boasts eight EV charging stations, including:
- Southlake Regional Health Centre (596 Davis Dr.)
- Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (120 Bayview Parkway)
- Newmarket Mitsubishi (301 Mulock Dr.)
- Newmarket Nissan (17385 Leslie St.)
- Pfaff Volkswagon (16885 Leslie St.)
- Newroads Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC (18100 Yonge St.)
- Treefrog (567 Davis Dr.)
- McDonalds (1100 Davis Dr.)
The town’s charging stations are owned and operated privately, and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) issue the permits for them, a spokesperson said.
But Bradford West Gwillimbury is falling behind in terms of the technology, Baker said, noting King City already has two charging stations; the Town of Innisfil’s Line 8 commuter parking lot has two.
“There’s nothing in between,” Baker added.
As part of his presentation, he explained the different levels of chargers – Level 1 being the household plug, Level 2 offering 48 amps and fully recharging a battery in 10 hours, and Level 3 “fast chargers,” that use 200 to 400 amps of electricity to recharge a 75 kwV battery in only 35 minutes.
Level 3 chargers take “a lot of energy,” Baker acknowledged, noting that in the public realm, “Level 2 are more commonplace” because they are cheaper to purchase and install.
York Region, including Vaughan, Aurora, Richmond Hill, King City, East Gwillimbury and Markham, and the City of Barrie all offer Level 2 or 3 charging, mostly free of charge.
Orangeville is one of the exceptions. It’s Flo Chargers cost $2.50 per hour – which works out to cheap parking. To deter gas-powered vehicles and non-charging EVs from simply occupying the spaces, Orangeville is also one of the few municipalities to pass a bylaw and set a fine, making it illegal to park at the charger when not charging, something Baker recommended.
Baker said installing Level 2 charging stations will they help fight climate change by promoting an alternative to the combustion engine, they could boost tourism and revitalize the downtown, attracting EV owners to the community for a recharge and a visit.
At the meeting, Baker presented a number of options that could be integrated into any of Bradford’s parking lots. The cost of pedestal and chargers ranged from about $21,300 for a Clipper Creek charging station that the town would have to install itself, to a $68,049 ChargePoint, that included full installation.
Or, he said, they could take advantage of Tesla’s offer of eight Tesla chargers and four Universal chargers, plus pedestals, free of charge. The only cost would be installation.
“The majority of EVs on the road are Teslas,” noted Baker, whose Model 3 Club has more than 900 members. “The cost to the town, residents is minimal,” especially if the town applies for the NRCAN grant funding now available.
He identified a number of possible locations for charging stations, including the Barrie Street parking lot, Mary Street lot, John Street West lot that is slated for reconstruction this fall, and the BWG Leisure Centre.
Terry Foran, the town’s Director of Community Services, warned that adequate power might not be available at some of the locations. Operations at the Leisure Centre, Foran said, were already a heavy electrical draw, making Level 3 chargers problematic.
“We’re draining the capacity out of the transformers,” he said, suggesting Level 2 chargers could be “OK.”
Councillor Gary Baynes, chairing the meeting, noted this isn’t the first free offer the town has received. This spring, a company approached BWG with a proposal: “The Town would provide space… in exchange for the installation of chargers,” he said.
The town approved the deal, the company applied for an NRCAN grant – but “we haven’t yet heard back,” Baynes said.
Town Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight called Baker’s presentation “great information,” although he noted that “free” chargers are “obviously not free for us. We pay for the power.”
He promised to do the research and incorporate the information into a report to council, although both Baynes and fellow Councillor Mark Contois warned that council is unlikely to move quickly on the issue.
McKnight suggested the town could at least ensure that electrical conduits were installed in the John Street lot, to be ready for a charging station, if council decides to proceed.
“I think it would be great if we could take advantage of this opportunity from Tesla,” said Ryan Charron, Bradford Board of Trade member on the Downtown Revitalization Committee. He said it’s important to do it before EV charging stations become more common.
“It’s a magnet for people that are travelling” and who drive either EVs or plug-in hybrids, Charron said – and who might be persuaded to visit the downtown while their vehicles charge.