The city will be adding an electric vehicle to its fleet sometime in the near future.
The city has also entered into a contract with the Yellowknife Car Share Co-op, a group that allows subscribers to schedule short-term use of shared vehicles for trips, to become the main user of a new electric car, said Chris Greencorn, director of Public Works, during an Oct. 21 committee meeting.
The co-op’s goal is to one day offer electric vehicles exclusively, said Greencorn.
Coun. Shauna Morgan asked Greencorn how the vehicle’s
performance would be monitored given that there are “myths in the North” about the costs and shortcomings of electric cars.
“Part of our partnership with the car share program is to monitor those things, so they will generate usage reports and arguably should be able to provide how much it offsets fossil fuels, if that was a fuel combustion engine,” said Greencorn.
Greencorn said the city will be exploring more opportunities and is looking forward to a time when light-duty vehicles (such as Ford F150 trucks used by the city) are available in electric models.
“It’s all on the horizon,” said Greencorn. “As soon as the technology starts to advance, we’ll be looking at taking advantage of some of those programs.”
Morgan said it will be important to communicate the success (or failures) of the program to the public.
Rob Warburton, founder of Cloud Works and board member at the car-share co-op, said the make and model of the new electric vehicle has not been determined yet, but confirmed it will be 100-per-cent electric.
“Like most things in the North, someone needs to take the lead before something catches on,” said Warbuton. “The city has really taken the lead as it is a part of their community energy plan to reduce emissions.”
Warbuton said the vehicle will initially be reserved for city staff, but eventually it will become available to co-op members after regular business hours and on weekends.
In 2014, the Arctic Energy Alliance acquired and tested the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid car, and found that it performed admirably, even in our frigid climate.
Mark Heyck, executive director of Arctic Energy Alliance, said the positive findings from the Volt experiment encouraged the city to acquire more electric vehicles.
“The Volt was tested for 18 months back around 2014,” said Heyck. “In a community like Yellowknife, electric cars should have no issues. The cold does reduce the range but that should not matter if you’re only driving around town.
“The real issue for the territory lies in electrical and charging infrastructure.”
Heyck commended the city for taking a “positive step forward” and that with more government bodies and corporations making pledges to reduce their carbon footprint, electric vehicles will be the way of the future.
Yellowknife SAO Sheila Bassi-Kellett said the municipal government wants to show the rest of the city that electric vehicles are viable.
“A big part of the rational in getting in an arrangement with them is to model that an electric vehicle is achievable, doable and useful in the city,” she said.
Bassi-Kellett said the city is “very confident” that the car will be able to perform in the city and will be “very-identifiable” once it is purchased.
The city has indicated it will reduce corporate and community greenhouse gas emissions as a part of their Community Energy Plan, and using electric vehicles will help move them towards that goal.
Currently there are two electric vehicle charging stations outside Somba K’e Civic Plaza.