Council looks at green transportation

District of Hope staff directed to prepare a feasibility report on the use of electric cars

Hope is mulling over the idea of giving electric cars a green light.

Council supported a motion on Monday night directing staff to prepare a feasibility report on the steps needed to legalize the use of low-speed electric vehicles on municipal roads in compliance with provincial legislation. The assessment will also contain input from the RCMP.

“The sort of vehicles I’m talking about are sort of enhanced golf carts,” said Mayor Laurie French, who proposed to the idea. “We want to get to a point where people can use environmentally friendly vehicles to do their chores around the community.”

Coun. Donna Kropp, who supported the initiative, told council she would like to see a program in place with minimal regulations that provides seniors and people with disabilities with more mobility options.

“I think it’s a great step and I think it’s something that is necessary in terms of our carbon footprint and our accessibility for our aging population,” added Coun. Ron Smith.

Electric cars used to be included with other slow-moving vehicles, like farm tractors, under the Motor Vehicle Act. In 2008, a change to legislation allowed municipalities to pass specific bylaws permitting electric cars (referred to as neighbourhood zero emission vehicles by the province) on roads with speeds between 40 and 50 km/h. Regulations stipulate that they can cross a highway with a speed limit of 80 km/h or less, as long as the vehicle continues along a road where it’s authorized to travel.

The majority of streets in Hope are posted at 50 km/h, which makes the community ideally laid out for low-speed vehicles. French said the district could consider having some municipal staff, such as a building inspector, use electric vehicles in the future where appropriate.

The District of Oak Bay was the first municipality in B.C. to adopt a bylaw legalizing electric cars in 2008. Other municipalities soon followed, and now Burnaby, Colwood, Esquimalt, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Qualicum Beach, Ucluelet and Whistler have joined the green initiative.

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