An electric vehicle at a charging station. File photo

An electric vehicle at a charging station. File photo

RDCK to launch active transportation study, buy EV for corporate fleet

The regional government’s goal is to cut its carbon pollution by half by 2030

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Directors with the Regional District of Central Kootenay have taken steps forward on two initiatives for greener, healthier transportation options for the region.

Earlier this month, the Community Sustainable Living Advisory Committee (CSLAC) told staff to draw up a preliminary budget for a study on regional active transportation options.

Active transportation includes human-powered transportation like walking, biking, rollerblading and other low-carbon transportation. The study will identify and prioritize the region’s active transportation nodes and hubs, with trails that connect people to recreation centres and other key amenities like schools, health centres and shopping.

Supporting and enhancing active transport also brings public health benefits, and is part of the RDCK’s climate impact reduction plans, which outline a 50 per cent reduction in carbon pollution by the regional government by 2030.

“Seventy per cent of the region’s carbon pollution comes directly from the burning of transportation fuels – diesel and gasoline…,” says a report to the CSLAC board. “Without radical reductions in this sector (both for passenger and commercial vehicles), the RDCK will not be able to achieve its commitment to reduce carbon pollution by half by 2030, and fully by 2050.”

Improving active transport options also supports people who can’t drive, or don’t want to have a car, improving equity overall, the report says. Any system would tie into the existing transit service.

“With a goal of supporting universal access to services and amenities, it is important to support the evolution of an integrated network of active and low-carbon transportation options (trails, buses, bikes, carshares, e-bikes, EVs, etc.) … within and between communities,” the staff report says.

The study will also look at potential projects to reduce greenhouse gases like improved public transit, carpooling/rideshare, long-distance bus services, and electric/hybrid technologies.

“This pathway maintains an emphasis on solutions that benefit all residents, particularly those with mobility challenges and financial limitations,” the report says.

The study and plan are expected to cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to complete. Staff were to have a budget prepared for CSLAC review at its next meeting.

Electrifying the fleet

In another green initiative involving transportation, the board of directors of the RDCK have approved a plan to spend up to $20,000 in order to receive $55,000 in grants from the Columbia Basin Trust’s Basin Charge Up program. The money will be used to buy the first all-electric vehicle for its fleet.

“While the electrification of passenger vehicles is an important part of RDCK climate actions and the transition to an active and low-carbon transportation ecosystem, private ownership of electric vehicles (EVs) is not available to many residents,” notes a staff report. “An RDCK purchase of an electric vehicle is an important show of leadership and creates a learning opportunity that can be passed on to residents and partner municipalities.”

The $60,000 electric vehicle would be based in Nelson, but tour other areas of the RDCK. The regional government would also put an electric charging station at its main office building in Nelson.

The RDCK is developing a plan to move to an all-electric fleet by 2050, and this would be a good start to learn the pros and cons of going all electric.

“The experience and incorporation into operations will inform the Zero Emission Vehicle Fleet Transition Plan,” a report says.

The board also directed staff to sign the West Coast Electric Fleets Pledge that encourages governments to use and purchase zero-emission vehicles. The goal is that 10 per cent of new vehicle purchases in the RDCK fleet be zero-emission vehicles.