Creston, B.C. – Canada’s first regional and community-driven strategy to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles celebrated its Kootenay-wide network of electric vehicle charging stations this week.

The initiative has installed 10 out of the 13 Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) planned across the region, and will have installed 40 Level 2 charging stations by the end of the summer. Electric vehicle drivers now have a fast charging corridor through the Kootenays that encompasses over 1,800 kilometres of connected electric vehicle travel.

Fast charging stations are critical infrastructure to allow electric vehicle drivers to travel to and within the Kootenay region, connecting communities from Sparwood to Greenwood, Revelstoke to Field, and all communities in between. The new charging stations not only makes electric vehicle ownership feasible for Kootenay residents, they have the benefit of allowing tourists driving electric vehicles to visit their favourite Kootenay destinations.

This week’s event in Creston celebrated the success of the Accelerate Kootenays initiative with many of the partners and funders involved over the past two years. In attendance at the launch on Friday, May 25th was Hon. Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Nelson-Creston MLA, who celebrated the project alongside the Chairs of the Regional Districts of East Kootenay and Central Kootenay; Bree Seabrook, Manager, Special Initiatives for Columbia Basin Trust; Doug Stout, VP Market Development & External Relations at FortisBC; and Maureen Daschuk, Sr. VP Integrated Planning at BC Hydro.

“British Columbians are keen to adopt electric vehicles, and increasing charging stations to all corners of the province is essential to that adoption,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum. “The Government of British Columbia is pleased to be a part of these initiatives as well as making electric vehicle purchases more affordable. Reducing carbon emissions by increasing clean energy vehicle use is part of our plan to build a better B.C.”

A regional strategy was developed two years ago, which designed a base network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure that would enhance tourism and economic opportunities for Kootenay communities while also providing an opportunity for residents to transition to cleaner fuel vehicles. Fast charging infrastructure is owned and operated by BC Hydro and FortisBC, in their respective service areas. Level 2 stations are installed in partnership with local governments, in strategic locations that will optimize economic co-benefits in the community.

Regional District of Central Kootenay Chair, Karen Hamling, emphasized the local context of the project: “The Accelerate Kootenays project is an opportunity for our communities to show off what’s great about the region, and to draw attention to the innovation that exists here at the community and regional level. We expect the project to attract new visitors to the region, benefitting our communities in a variety of ways.”

Under the Green Municipal FundTM (GMF), the Government of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities supports initiatives that advance innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources recognizes the importance of local collaboration for innovative solutions to climate change: “Canada is proud to support projects like Accelerate Kootenays. By supporting infrastructure for electric vehicles and alternative fuels, we are making it easier for Canadians to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to our climate goals. Making Canada’s roads greener starts at the regional level. With the collaboration of all levels of government, Canada is moving forward towards a clean energy future.”

The two-year, $1.8 million project is the result of an innovative collaboration between local and provincial governments as well as funding agencies that have worked together to address the charging infrastructure gap across the region. The initiative highlights the opportunities for electric vehicles in the Kootenays, using communications and marketing to bring a local context to the growing technology.

The project has been made possible by an unprecedented local collaboration led by the Regional Districts of East Kootenay, Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary, and includes in-kind and funding contributions from the Government of Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Teck, FortisBC, BC Hydro and Powertech Labs. The Accelerate Kootenays project is facilitated by Community Energy Association.

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