Expansion of Toronto’s EV charging network looks to public input

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Toronto looks to public for input on future EV charging network
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto expects thousands of electric vehicles to be added to city streets within the next seven years in order to meet its climate goals. Before that happens, it needs to have the charging infrastructure in place and it’s counting on public input to inform the process. Matthew Bingley reports.

There are about 1,800 public charging stations in the city of Toronto, not nearly enough for the expected demand as drivers shift away from fossil fuels, and the city is looking for public input to make the switch to an electric vehicle more palatable.

The city has a net zero emission target set for 2040, but in order to reach that lofty goal, it wants 30 per cent of the city’s registered vehicles to be electric. Currently, only about two per cent, or 23,000, of the roughly million registered vehicles in the city are plug-in hybrids or electric.

“We know it’s ambitious and we know there’s a lot of work to do and that’s why charging’s going to play a key role,” said James Nowlan, the executive director of the city’s environment and climate division.

If there are enough chargers, Nowlan said, it will help residents feel comfortable making the shift to an electric vehicle knowing they won’t have to wonder how they’ll find power.

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The concern is a real one for many vehicle owners looking ahead to their next purchase. Bryan Siu-Chong currently drives a gas-powered hybrid and said the interest in an EV is there, but he needs to see the infrastructure first.

“I hear the horror stories that if you don’t have a Tesla and you’re driving around, you can’t find somewhere to charge your car,” he said.

Toronto staff are currently in the midst of a fact-finding mission drawing on concerns and interests of vehicle owners to determine what the city’s future charging network will look like. Nowlan said the city is interested in hearing everything from “where, when, how much and what type of electric vehicle charging we need across the city.”

He said it could include a mixture of public and private-sector charging, with the sole purpose of ensuring convenience is at the core.

On Wednesday evening, there will be one final in-person meeting held at the Fairfield Senior’s Centre in Etobicoke from 6 to 8 p.m. but anyone who can’t make it can fill out a survey online.

The study will wrap up later this year with the findings presented to city council in early 2024.

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