OTTAWA (ONTARIO) – JUNE 3, 2021
In Ottawa, the transportation sector produces almost half of greenhouse gas emissions. Transitioning to electric vehicles is one of the biggest actions we can take to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It will also benefit Ottawa’s health by improving air quality, lowering particulates and decreasing noise pollution.
PUBLIC PANEL EVENT OUTCOMES
Held on June 3rd 2021, the public panel opened the Design Thinking training with an overview of the situation of electric vehicles in Canada and internationally before focusing on the role of utility companies and municipalities.
Public Panel Event Synthesis
Raymond Leury, President of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa, brought positive insights on the projections for the transition to electric vehicles. There currently is an exponential growth in the adoption of electric vehicles, especially in Europe with Norway leading the way (plug-in car market share reaching 85% as of June 2021). The significant drop in battery costs (about 90% between 2010 and 2020) was probably the push starting this trend and with countries committing to only sell electric vehicles within the next 20 years (15 years for Canada), the sales numbers will only keep going up.
With these projections, the main question that comes to mind is how will utility companies support the transition already happening? Sara Ganowski, Smart Cities Specialist, Green Energy & Technology Centre at Alectra Utilities weighed in on this question. According to her, the key lays in strong, collaborative relationships among utility consumers, regulators and policy stakeholders, technology innovators and utility companies. Learning consumption habits and providing customer-centric solutions for grid usage change will help foster the transition to electric vehicles.
The other aspect that was looked into during this public panel was what other municipalities are currently doing and what they are focusing on to accelerate this transition. Maggie Baynham, Senior Sustainability Planner at the District of Saanich brought her expertise to the table by showcasing by-laws already in place in the District of Saanich and British Columbia and by highlighting that bringing electric vehicle chargers into new buildings and existing multi-family units is one of the main areas that will accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by the general public.
For this Design Thinking training, the City of Ottawa identified two challenges that the participants worked on. The first one was the prevalence of fossil fuel vehicles, which is a deterrent to transitioning to electric vehicles. The second one was the lack of charging infrastructure, which is a challenge for electric vehicle ownership for people residing and commuting in Ottawa. At the end of the training, three solutions for each challenge were identified.
The prevalence of fossil fuel vehicles is a deterrent to transitioning to electric vehicles
Mentoring sessions between electric vehicles owners and fossil fuel vehicles owners is one way to reduce the prevalence of fossil fuel vehicles. The mechanisms that would allow to scale those interactions to as many consumers as possible needs to be determined. Positive conversations between the Association des Véhicules Électriques du Quebec (AVÉQ) and the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) have already happened that would help leverage what is already implemented in Quebec.
Once individuals are ready to take the step to transition to electric vehicles, a website mapping all available electric vehicles at dealerships would allow consumers to find the type of electric vehicle they are looking for through numerous dealerships using real-time data. Test drive sessions with a knowledgeable EV owner/educator from Envirocentre would also be available.
Finally, the power of networking and social media needs to be acknowledged and identifying trusted voices to reach out to people outside of environmental circles will have a significant impact. Several influencers might help amplify the message: from petrolheads, trusted members of one’s social circle to public figures such as politicians, media personalities or sports figures.
To go further, click here to view the training materials.
The lack of charging infrastructure is a challenge for electric vehicle ownership for people residing and commuting in Ottawa
When it comes to the lack of public and residential charging infrastructures, municipal work will play an important role. Supporting better incentives, favouring incentives fostering large scale implementation and reviewing international best practices (tax privileges, utility bills, etc.) can make a significant difference. Giving more visibility to existing incentives and working with organisations to know what is happening in other countries will provide the City the support needed to spark a new interest in implementing electric vehicle infrastructure.
Other actors need to come in support of the City’s initiative. This is a multi-layered initiative involving the Chambers of Commerce having a leadership role in establishing public electric vehicle infrastructures, B2B associations and the engagement of existing Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). This will provide the support needed by gas stations and grocery stores to install electric vehicle stations. Finally, another key actor to include in the decision-making process is financial institutions. This will provide a more complete approach to the challenge as well as secure financial support to any future initiative.
To go further, click here to view the training materials.
ABOUT THE ECOHACK-A-CITY SERIES
Municipalities are in a unique position to make real strides in the fight for a more sustainable future. The EcoHack-a-city initiative is designed to strengthen the ties among stakeholders who can support this ecological transition!
To discover the next themes addressed in the EcoHack-a-city public panel events, click here.
To participate in an EcoHack-a-city training, click here.