A Tesla electric car plugged into a charging station.

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Electric vehicle charging stations could come to Ryerson next year

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By Nikhil Sharma

A Toronto city councilor hopes electric vehicle charging stations could be installed near Ryerson next year.

There are currently 5,800 electric vehicles being driven on Ontario roads, but there are no on-street charging locations in Toronto. Officials believe a lack of charging stations in Canada deters people from driving electric vehicles. But at the end of last year, the provincial government announced a $20-million investment from Ontario’s Green Investment Fund to build 500 charging stations at over 250 locations by March.

“There is an appetite for sustainable transit and electric vehicles,” Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches- East York) said.

She said charging stations could be installed near parks and universities. The stations could be available on existing parking lanes.

In September, McMahon sent a letter to the city’s public works and infrastructure committee requesting an update regarding on-street charging stations, a pilot project that was supposed begin in 2012. The report was not submitted, despite being supported by council.

Staff are expected to report back in the second quarter of 2017 on practices used in other cities to expand electric vehicle charging stations, opportunities to support the Toronto Parking Authority’s expansion of charging stations, and strategies to install stations that would be convenient for residents without driveways and garages.

An average plug-in hybrid electric vehicle costs about $700 annually, or $1.92 a day for fuel, which includes gasoline and electricity. A standard battery electric vehicle costs less than $300 to fuel per year. Comparatively, gas-powered cars can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500 per year to fuel.

New electric vehicles can travel at least 100 km on a single charge while others can travel up to about 500 km.

A lower-end electric car costs around $35,000.

Charging stations on campus could be used in a ride-sharing program, where shared electric vehicles would be charged so everyone could use them, McMahon said.

Brian Miller, communications advisor at Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization which supports electric vehicles, said the security of knowing that charging stations are available can go a long way when encouraging people to purchase electric cars.

“People are under the impression that when a car plugs in, the lights are going to flicker and it’s going to use hundreds of dollars a month of electricity,” Miller said. “That’s not the case at all.”

Plug’n Drive met with representatives from Ryerson two years ago to discuss the possibility of installing charging stations on campus. Miller said his coworker suggested the residence across from the engineering building as a place charging stations could be installed.

Despite the interest in installing the stations, Miller said there could be logistical problems.

“Many parking lots and buildings weren’t designed with electric vehicles in mind … the cost for installation can be quite expensive,” he said.

Charging station hardware, electrical materials, labour and permits are among what’s needed to install a single-port public or parking garage station, which can cost up to $6,000.

An exact dollar amount for Toronto installations has not yet been determined, but McMahon is hopeful that the idea will receive more interest once the report comes back.

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