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2014 Transportation

City of Vancouver, British Columbia

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Pilot Program

Population:  Project duration:  Total project value:
603,502 2011-ongoing $800,000


After years of laying the groundwork for electric vehicles (EV), the City of Vancouver has established a network of public charging sites large enough to meet current demand and future growth.

The city's EV program, which began in 2005, includes updating building codes to ensure new residences are EV-ready, working with car-share companies to foster EV use, running a Fast Charge demonstration project, and building a municipal EV fleet. The charging station network was started in 2010 and expanded during a formal pilot program in 2011. Development continues — when construction on new stations is complete, the city will have 69 public-access charging stations in place.

The EV program has given Vancouver the chance to learn best practices. It has also led to innovative partnerships to fund public EV infrastructure. Having run out of rooftop sites, many telecommunications companies are building stand-alone cell towers on public sites. In exchange for lower leasing rates from the city, telecoms are incorporating EV charge stations into some of these sites.

This project received support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 10410).


Environmental Economic Social
  • 10 tonnes of GHG emissions saved by city's EV fleet

  • 39 tonnes of GHG emissions saved by public EV use

  • 85,000 km driven by members of EV car-share program

  • 13 EV-ready multi-family dwellings built since 2010

  • 6 charge stations installed with no up-front cost

  • Increased knowledge and skills among tradespeople

  • Enhanced public awareness of environmental issues

  • Educational displays at EV charge stations

  • Car-share partnership provides more options for green transportation


  • Comprehensive EV infrastructure must include charging stations in residential, commercial and public spaces. Municipalities need strategies to encourage development in each of these areas.

  • The best business model for charging stations is still unclear. High up-front costs and low electricity prices result in a slow return on investment.

  • Installation costs, vehicle capacity and payment options are challenges for on-street charging sites (for homeowners without garages), and for EV infrastructure in multi-family residential buildings.

Lessons learned

  • Get stakeholder buy-in at every level.  You need to educate everyone in the chain- from electricians and facility managers to financial people.

  • Get accurate costs. Installation costs can vary dramatically from site to site and may include  electrical upgrades and related permits, charge station purchases, network subscriptions, and electricity costs.

  • It's helpful to have partners with vested interests. For example, a retail partner that wants to see success through EV charging stations may be a more effective advocate than the municipality.

Page Updated: 27/04/2018