Bylaw will allow electric vehicles

Small electric vehicles will soon be allowed on the roads in Summerland.

Small electric vehicles will soon be allowed on the roads in Summerland.

On May 27, council gave first three readings to a bylaw allowing the low-speed vehicles on municipal roads.

The bylaw allows the vehicles on any road in the municipality with a speed limit of no more than 50 kilometres an hour.

All municipal roads have a speed limit of 50 kilometres an hour unless otherwise posted.

The sole exception in Summerland is Highway 97.

The concept of electric vehicles has been considered for many years.

“This has been going around the table since the early 2000s,” Coun. Bruce Hallquist said at the meeting. “It’s time to get on with it.”

Hallquist has long advocated allowing the small vehicles.

In the municipality’s Master Transportation Plan from 2007, electric vehicles are mentioned.

“Electric carts present an opportunity to expand the breadth of transportation options available to Summerland residents while creating a sustainable alternative to automobile travel,” the plan says.

“Electric carts provide triple bottom-line benefits to both the user and the District. Carts address sustainability objectives by producing zero emissions, while improving transportation equity by providing an affordable option for lower income residents and increasing mobility for seniors.”

Coun. Martin Van Alphen said the vehicles are designed for in-town use and can be insured for use on the roads.

“I think they’re a wonderful addition to our community,” he said.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the smaller vehicles could be used for in-town municipal work in the future, although at present the municipality has not made decisions to replace any of its existing fleet with smaller electric vehicles.

This bylaw represents the second green transportation initiative this year. Earlier, the municipality set up three charging stations downtown for electric vehicles.

Municipal planner and climate action coordinator Julie McGuire said there has been interest in electric vehicles.

A request had earlier been made for a bylaw allowing small electric vehicles. McGuire said this request was from someone interested in purchasing and operating such a vehicle.

The final reading of the bylaw is expected at the next municipal council meeting on June 10.