District of Kitimat council has amended its support for a North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) resolution to lobby the province to reconsider its 2040 vehicle emissions mandate.
The province’s goal is that by 2040, all new vehicle sales must be zero emissions. At its Feb. 27 meeting, Kitimat council voted to support the NCLGA resolution that stated: “Be it resolved that the North Central Local Government Association and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities lobby the Provincial Government to reconsider their plan to require only electric vehicle sales in British Columbia by 2040.”
Kitimat council expressed concern over this timeline, but unanimously modified its support for the resolution in a new motion stating, “if interim targets for 2030 are not met by the province, that may be the time to request the province reconsider their 2040 objectives.”
Councillor Terry Marleau wrote in the motion to reconsider support for the resolution numbered R23-042 that “the District of Kitimat supports the transition to zero-emission vehicles, but wants the province to know that more support for northern and rural communities is required if they are going to set ambitious targets.”
A debate surrounding electric vehicle infrastructure ensued.
“I don’t believe the provincial government should have that much power in mandating what should be sold or what should be bought by the consumer,” Councillor Graham Pitzel commented.
He brought up concerns over the technology’s ability to function in a northern climate. He recommended that the 100 per cent target be reevaluated, saying that “people should have the freedom of choice as to what they drive.”
Councillor Feldhoff spoke in favour of the motion saying, “I think this motion strikes the right balance, tells the provincial government they better think carefully how they do this.”
Mayor Phil Germuth, who owns and runs a mechanic shop also expressed concerns, saying, “I absolutely get where Councillor Pitzel is coming from, being in the industry, of course. The Toyota Prius was first offered for sale in the year 2000, so in 23 years look how far we haven’t come.”
Councillor Edwin Empinado spoke about the challenges of electric vehicles and the need for more robust infrastructure.
Councillor Michelle Martins commented that 70 communities in BC have some form of electric vehicle charging station and that more are being planned. She also commented on the lack of dealerships and repair infrastructure available in the north, as well as the feasibility of biodiesel as a replacement for gasoline and diesel-dependant vehicles.
Martins also acknowledged the challenges put forward by Mayor Germuth but said it’s “not reason to shy away from this transition but rather to be motivated to ensure that we’re able to cross that threshold where zero emissions vehicles don’t become a challenge but rather becomes a practical choice for the future.”