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New electric vehicle charger adds jolt to your Vancouver Island West Coast jaunt

50-kilowatt fast charging unit doubles charging capacity at Pacific Rim Visitor Centre

The Pacific Rim Visitor Centre has a new charging station for electric vehicles.

BC Hydro installed a 50-kilowatt fast charging unit at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction location in 2018 and doubled down to add a new unit in December.

Kathy Sanderson and Phil Scott charged their Tesla with the new charger on Sunday, Jan. 29, during a visit from North Saanich.

“It’s so important. It makes it so much easier for us to come up here. We couldn’t come up here if we didn’t have these chargers. It would be impossible to stay and enjoy the place, so we’re really thrilled,” Sanderson said. “It also makes us very happy to have two chargers here because often we had to wait to get our car charged up because there was a line-up.”

Each fast-charging unit can add roughly 50 kilometres of driving to an average electric vehicle in about 10 minutes, according to a statement from BC Hydro announcing the new unit.

Ucluelet resident Sebastien Townsend also charged his electric vehicle at the site on Sunday and said he was “super grateful” for both units.

Townsend said he has been driving an electric vehicle for three years and the charging units at the junction allow him to check surf beaches and make trips between Tofino and Ucluelet without stressing over high gas prices or long charging waits.

“The charging infrastructure in the area is important to have because, without it, no one would be able to have electric cars out here, it’s too slow to charge at your house if you’re going back and forth between Tofino and Ucluelet a lot,” he said. “Having the fast chargers here makes a trip to Tofino and Ucluelet no problem or to Port Alberni and back no problem.”

He shared Sanderson’s excitement around the new unit cutting down on wait times during the West Coast’s busy season.

“It’s not a big deal in the winter, but in the summer it’s really annoying when you have to wait for a charger. One of the problems with charging systems is they do take longer than gas,” he said.

BC Hydro’s fast charging network currently boasts a roster of 133 charging units at 81 sites throughout the province and the units are funded in a partnership with the Province of B.C. and Natural Resources Canada.

“We’re working to make it easier for drivers in B.C. to go electric and use more of B.C.’s clean, reliable hydroelectricity,” said Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation and MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim Josie Osborne through the announcement.

“This public charging location in Ucluelet will benefit people living on the West Coast who are reducing emissions by switching to electric vehicles, as well as the many EV-driving travellers who come to visit our beautiful forests and beaches.”

The announcement suggests that transportation makes up roughly 40 per cent of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions and that BC Hydro revealed an Electrification Plan in 2021 to encourage B.C. residents, businesses and industries to reduce their carbon emissions by switching from fossil fuels to hydroelectricity and transfer over from gas-powered to electric vehicles.

“As the primary fuel supplier for electric vehicles, we are building out charging infrastructure to ensure we can accommodate the volume and variety of electric vehicles that will be on B.C. roads in the coming years,” said BC Hydro President and CEO Chris O’Riley. “BC Hydro will add 325 charging units to its network at 145 sites within the next five years.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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