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District Council: Charging station fees fizzle out for now

Councillors voted 1-3 against hiring fee structure contractor

It seems electric vehicle charging in the district will remain free – at least for the moment.

During a particularly busy July 20 meeting, the District of Kent Council voted 1-3, defeating a motion to use the services of ChargeLab, which is an electrical vehicle payment network that would have been hired to track local charger usage and to charge motorists accordingly. Coun. Kerstin Schwitchtenberg was the sole in-favour vote.

ChargeLab is based in Toronto in Canada and in Mountain View in the U.S. Director of engineering services Mick Thiessen said there is currently no way to precisely track or gauge the use of local chargers; the current general estimate is about eight hours per day, which translates to approximately $314 per month.

RELATED: Kent to implement $2/hour charging fee for electric vehicles

Couns. Stan Watchorn and Susan Spaeti both expressed concerns about the initial cost of setting this service up. ChargeLab would charge $400 for activation of a two-port charger similar to the one that’s currently in place plus $576 in annual service fees plus a 10 per cent transaction fee on every charge. Based on estimates given, district staff estimated the charge would need to be used an average of 3.2 hours per day for a $2 per hour user fee in order to cover the annual fee alone.

“The math just doesn’t seem to add up,” Mayor Sylvia Pranger said.

As charging is currently free, Coun. Schwichtenberg said in her view, it was better to put a fee system into place as the use of electric cars appears to be on the rise. Although not expecting a short-term profit, Schwichtenberg felt it should be in place as if electric car use continues to rise it could cause ire if a fee structure was put in place later down the line.

As far as recent months are concerned, council meetings rarely see more than one dissenting vote on any given matter, let alone three.

RELATED: District of Kent Council delivers COVID-19 updates

In other council business, the district council approved 11 zoning and development bylaws, including revisions of the official community plan map.

The council voted 4-1 (Post opposed) to approve awarding an engineering services contract to Urban Systems Ltd. for the Agassiz Slough flood box upgrade for approximately $169,000.

The council approved spending about $750 for each of seven B.C. Hydro boxes to be wrapped in decorative wraps. If B.C. Hydro approves of a fund application on behalf of the district, the cost to Kent would drop to $400 per box.

The council approved a resolution to support an application to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ 2020 Community Excellence Awards for the Hammersley pump station upgrade.

Coun. Post stated the speed reading signs have been moved to Highway 9 in the hopes it will “have some positive effect” and help motorists slow down. Highway 9 has been one of the bigger sources of excess speed within town site limits.

Coun. Schwichtenberg said the Agassiz Library is currently discussing a re-opening date and as of Monday (July 20) is expecting to have news concerning re-opening soon.

Mayor Pranger urged residents to continue to take precautions against coronavirus, including physical distancing, keeping hands clean and wearing masks when physical distancing is not possible.

“Let’s not get complacent,” Pranger stated. “Let’s stay safe, be kind and please shop local.”

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for August 17 at 7 p.m. at District Hall. Those wishing to attend must adhere to COVID-19 physical distancing and hygiene regulations. Those who are feeling unwell are asked to stay home.

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