The Green Municipal Fund (GMF) has identified a half-dozen key steps municipalities can take to tackle the biggest barriers to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) adoption.
Transport is a leading source of community emissions, and Canadian cities won’t meet their climate targets without ZEVs, the GMF concludes from a new modelling exercise. But the six steps will help municipalities “accelerate emissions reductions, create healthier streets, and ensure an equitable transportation transition.”
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The most important first step is to create advantages that make ZEVs more appealing and affordable than internal combustion. Zero-emission zones and favourable parking policies are a start, but the GMF says they must be integrated within a transportation framework that prioritizes active, shared, and public transportation. Cities must also consult with groups facing equity challenges—including women, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, people who are part of LGBTQ2+ communities, religious minority groups, and racialized people—to strengthen benefits and avoid potential negative impacts.
Cities must also improve access to public charging stations by investing in and installing the new infrastructure their citizens will need. Charger installations can be sped up with funding from utilities or senior levels of government, by accelerating private sector investment, and by removing regulatory barriers and including EV charging requirements in business licenses.
Enabling EV-ready retrofits in existing buildings allows Canadians to charge their vehicles at home, a critical factor in encouraging households to choose a ZEV as their next vehicle. Cities speed up those installations by mandating charger retrofits in existing buildings, while providing financial incentives and educational resources for multiple-unit buildings like condominiums and rental apartments.
Bylaws can ensure that all new buildings facilitate the vehicle transition, by requiring that 100% of parking spaces in new residential buildings, and between 20% and 40% for non-residential buildings, are EV-ready. Municipal governments that lack the authority to enact these regulations can advocate for provincial governments to do so.
Looking beyond personal vehicles, the GMF says cities can develop fleet decarbonization plans for municipal light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles and benefit from the lower overall costs of ZEV ownership. Vancouver, for example, has 145 EVs in operation, including 55 heavy-duty vehicles including Zambonis, greens mowers, utility vehicles, and forklifts.
Cities can also encourage the electrification of shared fleets with licencing and bylaws that mandate zero-emission ride-hailing fleets by 2030. Land use bylaws can also be amended to include dedicated EV car-share parking and reduce the amount of parking required in new residential buildings. Integrating shared fleets needs into the planning for a city’s charging network will encourage the electrification of high-kilometre vehicles and minimize reliance on personal vehicles, with the added benefit of increasing EV access for those who cannot afford to own one.