British Columbia’s Lower Mainland has taken the lead in enacting bylaws that mandate electric vehicle charging infrastructure in multi-unit residential complexes, but other Canadian provinces and territories are poised to catch up—except for Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nunavut.
That’s the takeaway from a report prepared by Electric Autonomy Canada, compiling regulatory changes across Canada that ensure buildings are EV-ready.
A lack of at-home chargers is a big hurdle to wider EV adoption, the industry news digest explains, and it’s especially a deterrent for Canadians who live in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) like condos, apartment buildings, strata, or townhomes, where they may not have full control over infrastructure decisions.
A dearth of federal policy on EV charging access in MURBs puts the onus on provinces and municipalities to mandate it through building code regulations, Electric Autonomy says. And while momentum has grown over the last year, there is still much work to be done in many provinces. EV autonomy has just introduced a bylaw tracker as a guide to Canadian jurisdictions’ initiatives to make MURBs, condos, and stratas EV-ready.
British Columbia is Canada’s epicentre for regulatory changes when it comes to MURBs. In April, the provincial government amended the Strata Property Act so it “requires strata owners to have an electrical planning report for the installation of EV chargers.” Amendments to the act also lowered the minimum number of votes needed to approve costs and changes to properties to install EV infrastructure, EA says.
At the local level, Kamloops has joined 21 other B.C. cities in introducing building code changes to mandate EV charging facilities in new construction. As of January 1, 2023, all new residential buildings in Kamloops must have electrical infrastructure to support Level 2 EV charging for at least one parking space per unit.
The zoning bylaw change also requires buildings over three storeys high to show an “EV-capable plan” before construction begins. Kamloops and another relatively small city, Nelson, are outliers in a pattern where municipal EV mandates for MURBs are limited to the population-dense Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island—and nowhere else in the province for now.
Ontario municipalities are also plugging into MURB EV support, with multiple jurisdictions “adding, or looking at adding” EV infrastructure to buildings since Electric Autonomy released its first report in May, 2022.
Since then, Ajax, Kitchener, and Waterloo have joined Toronto in mandating various proportions of EV charging stations in new MURBs. Toronto has required that all residential parking spaces for dwelling units located in apartment buildings, mixed-use buildings, and multiple dwelling unit buildings, but not visitor parking, include an outlet capable of providing at least Level 2 charging to the space.
Cambridge, Whitby, Hamilton, and Mississauga, continue their progress towards such mandates.
Councillor Scott Hamilton told Cambridge Today the issue had come before elected officials a few times. “I’m not calling out any developer specifically, but there can be hundreds and hundreds of proposed parking spots and the question is how many of these have electric charging stations, and the answer typically is ‘none’,” he said.
Developers’ reluctance to join the push for expanded charging infrastructure was a factor in Sarnia’s June 2022 decision notto mandate a minimum number of EV chargers in new MURBs. “Although staff encouraged the local private sector to build an EV charging network across the city, they wrote that establishing EV requirements for MURBs would ‘be more onerous on the development industry than the current Building Code, and may lead to additional costs’,” Electric Autonomy says.
All of that is in sharp contrast to the province-wide momentum in 2017, when the then-Liberal government amended the provincial building code to “require 20% of parking spaces in a new single-unit, semi-detached and townhouse building to have EV charging,” the news story states. Ever since Premier Doug Ford repealed that amendment in 2018, “the issue has been punted to local governments to decide on.”
In Quebec, Montreal seems to be moving in the direction of regulating EV charging in all new MURBs, Electric Autonomy says, citing references to the eventual creation of such mandates in the city’s transportation electrification strategy, updated last August.
A city spokesperson said the Sud-Ouest borough had independently amended its bylaws to require EV charging stations “in certain residential buildings with more than four dwellings.”
But for now, Laval remains the only Quebec city with bylaws that require some degree of EV charging in new multi-family dwellings. Bylaw amendments in January, 2020 called for all new MURBs between five and 49 units to ensure that “25% of parking spaces have electrical equipment that can accommodate Level 2 EV charging stations,” while new builds of more than 50 units must ensure the same for 20% of their parking spaces.
In Alberta, Calgary’s new Climate Implementation Plan states the intention, “through policy and bylaw changes, [to] require all new residential buildings to be EV-ready” by 2026. Just a year earlier, a city spokesperson told Electric Autonomy the focus was on “voluntary compliance or partial compliance.”
Saskatchewan’s biggest city is also making changes. In 2022, Saskatoon’s climate manager said the city was developing a zero-emission vehicle adoption roadmap, with a completion date set for March 2023. Latest hopes are that it will be finished by December.
No city in Nova Scotia has yet mandated EV charging in MURBs, but there was some movement at the provincial level this spring. The government allocated funding to Efficiency Nova Scotia, the provincial energy efficiency utility, to offer rebates for MURB owners looking to install EV chargers. Both new and existing buildings are eligible.
Rebates of up to C$75 for installation of Level 2 chargers in buildings are also being made available to Yukon residents through the territorial government. The territory has also pledged to fund the installation of up to 200 EV charging stations, including in MURBs.
The Government of the Northwest Territories is making similar efforts, indicating in its Energy Action Plan that it is pursuing funding from Natural Resources Canada to develop a funding program for public, commercial, and MURB EV charging.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Electric Autonomy’s 2022 report said St. John’s city staff were “reviewing possible approaches to adding EV charging requirements to parking spaces at new residential developments.”
In 2023, as in 2022, the roundup shows no new developments in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Nunavut.