Members of Tamworth’s business community are hoping Stone Mills council sees the value of staying plugged in to the increasing demand of electric vehicles.
At Monday’s council meeting in Centreville, Tamworth and Erinsville Community Development Committee (TECDC) member Cam Mather asked the municipality to consider finding $20,000 to fund the installation of an electronic vehicle charging station within the village. He shared a map showing the closest stations to the community were located in Napanee in the south, Verona in the east, and Springbrook in the west.
“It offers another way to try to position Tamworth as a place people can come and be comfortable,” Mather said. “We’re finding that with electric vehicles, some people do have range anxiety. I’m thinking of people coming to Tamworth and they’re not sure they’re going to get there and back comfortably.”
He said he wonders if the tourists with kayaks on their vehicles heading into Tamworth to visit the bakery or another shop would still be there if they couldn’t access charging equipment.
Mather said the TECDC has undertaken considerable research into service delivery and found it would be cost prohibitive for their collective to proceed. He said the lowest estimates he found were about $10,000 for equipment and another $10,000 for installation. There could be a revenue stream, however.
“A lot of organizations like restaurants or hotels will put these up and not charge for electricity,” he said. “We think the best way to handle it would be using a charging service like flo.ca or chargepoint.com. You would have a special card or your smartphone and be billed that way. Some of the money would be returned to whomever installed it — in this case Stone Mills.”
According to Mather, the merchant group suggested locating the station at the municipal library parking lot because it is central and accessible. He cautioned the location could be impacted by the potential to access electricity and make an installation.
“It’s a learning curve for us. We realize it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
In making a motion to refer the discussion to budget deliberations, councillor Doug Davison called electric cars “a sign of the future” and said more and more people will soon be driving hybrids.
Deputy reeve John Wise said he felt council would need staff to provide some analysis of potential returns. He said while he doesn’t think a station would break even for some time, it would provide general benefit to the business community and to some local residents. He also looked at environmental impacts.
“If we really are going to change our economy and save civilization, we better mostly be driving electric cars by 2030. It’s a huge piece of the emissions puzzle, so it’s not premature to be thinking of this now. It just comes down to: ‘Can a municipality of our size afford to be a leader?’”
Mather said it may be difficult to get accurate revenue estimates, but suggested he could reach out to other eastern Ontario communities to get an idea of what to expect.
Davison said he feels the township actively explore the idea, whether or not it can afford it now.
“If we don’t start thinking about it at some point, we’ll never get to the end point. We may not do it this year, but the township has a history of saving to do things. We may find it’s not feasible this year, but we can put money away in the next year or two years. It’s something you have to talk about.”
Wise also suggested later in the meeting, funding such a project might be an appropriate use of funds raised through a community vibrancy agreement for the Loyalist Solar Project.