Kent Rathwell lifts the hood on the all-electric Tesla during Tuesday's open house in Port Hardy.

Charge stations connect Vancouver Island

A new series of charge stations for electric vehicles spans the Island

PORT HARDY—Eventually, Sun Country Highway would like to blanket Canada, North America and beyond with the infrastructure necessary to power electric vehicles.

Vancouver Island is already up and running.

“First Vancouver Island, then the world,” said Kent Rathwell, president and founder of the Saskatchewan-based company, during an open house held at the local visitors’ centre Tuesday morning.

Rathwell and other members of the Sun Country Highway team were in Port Hardy to announce that they have completed the installation of a series of EV charging stations that will allow electric car drivers to travel from Victoria to Port Hardy — and make side trips to Tofino and Telegraph Cove along the way.

“We’re here to prove the EV industry can happen,” said Rathwell. “It’s happening today, and this is just the start.”

The Sun Country team, including Rob MacGregor, regional director for British Columbia, powered its four-vehicle fleet at a new EV charging station installed last week at the visitors’ centre. Another charging station was installed in Port Hardy at Orange Tabby Bed and Breakfast and two more were installed Tuesday morning at the North Coast Trail Backpackers Hostel.

Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham, Chief Administrative Officer Rick Davidge, councillor John Tidbury and staff of the Chamber of Commerce were among those in attendance at Tuesday’s open house.

They were treated to a look at a high-powered, all-electric Tesla sport coupe capable of 400 kilometres per charge, as well as a Chevy Volt and two large, extended-range vehicles — a full-sized pickup truck and a 12-passenger van — built by Via on Chevy truck chassis.

The chargers, provided at no charge by Sun Country Highway, are 90-amp units capable of fully charging most electric vehicles in a matter of two to three hours. That compares to the overnight charge time of the typical home-based chargers, which operate at 15 to 20 amps.

“Manufacturers haven’t wanted to build electric cars because there’s not enough infrastructure to power them,” said MacGregor. “And nobody’s built the infrastructure because there aren’t enough cars to make it worthwhile.

“Now, there’s no excuse why they can’t start pumping these out. It’s all going to come.”

To link North Vancouver Island with the South through large stretches of remote country, Sun Country Highway has installed an EV charger in Sayward, at Fisherboy Park, and another in Woss, which was donated to the Regional District of Mount Waddington and installed Wednesday at a utility station just off Highway 19.

Sun Country now want to take the system all the way across the country.

“We’re out to show this is something not just for inner-city corridors,” said Rathwell.

 

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