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Challenges in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development Across the Prairie Provinces

The Prairie provinces, alongside Newfoundland and Labrador, lag behind the rest of Canada in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Navigating outside major highways or urban centers poses challenges, particularly in rural areas and northern Saskatchewan, where finding charging stations remains difficult, notes Jerilyn Nixon, secretary of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association.

“It’s not just about facilitating EV travel through the provinces; it’s also about encouraging visits to tourist destinations,” Nixon emphasized. “We need charging stations in every small town, museum, mall, and grocery store, recognizing not everyone has access to home chargers.”

Prince Edward Island boasts the highest per capita number of charging ports at 16 per 10,000 people, contrasting sharply with the Prairie provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador, where this figure stands at just three.

While Canada has seen a tripling of EV charging ports over the past five years, totaling over 30,000 ports across nearly 12,000 stations, Natural Resources Canada data indicates a substantial shortfall compared to the projected 442,000 to 469,000 ports needed by 2035.

According to Tim Reuss, CEO of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, consumer choice plays a pivotal role in EV adoption: “Meeting consumer needs in communities and environments is critical for achieving the 2035 transition.”

Automotive industry leaders stress the importance of provincial and federal support to enhance incentives and charging infrastructure, crucial for meeting the federal mandate of 100% EV sales by 2035.

“Canadians require robust provincial and federal actions to build dependable charging infrastructure and support zero-emission vehicle purchases across all market sectors,” Reuss emphasized.

Currently, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario lack provincial EV purchase incentives. Ontario repealed its $14,000 purchase rebate in 2018, while Saskatchewan imposes a $150 annual road-use fee on registered EV owners.

Joanna Kyriazis, director of public affairs at Clean Energy Canada, highlights British Columbia (B.C.) and Quebec as Canada’s leading provinces in EV adoption, with 22% to 25% of new car sales being electric.

“B.C. and Quebec lead in EV charging infrastructure, boasting approximately 10 charging ports per 10,000 people,” Kyriazis noted. Conversely, Ontario falls short with less than six ports per capita.

Kyriazis further explained the impact of rebate programs: “Ontario lacks consumer rebates for EVs, and our public charging network trails B.C. and Quebec’s, despite being a hub for EV and battery manufacturing.”

B.C. offers rebates up to $4,000, while Quebec provides up to $8,000 for EV purchases, though both provinces recently announced plans to scale back these programs.

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