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Parking pad dispute spurs questions over Toronto’s electric vehicle charging plan

Click to play video: 'Is Toronto’s EV charging strategy moving fast enough?'
Is Toronto’s EV charging strategy moving fast enough?
WATCH: A Beaches resident is calling the city’s carbon neutral aspirations ‘hypocritical’ after being told he can’t keep a parking pad to facilitate an EV charging station. While some councillors argue the city already has a plan to expand the charging network, others argue it isn’t moving fast enough for residents and parking pads should be allowed in the interim. Matthew Bingley reports – Mar 13, 2024

A resident of Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood who recently lost an appeal to keep his parking pad is calling out the city’s carbon reduction plans, calling the position taken by city councillors ‘hypocritical’ in their refusal to allow him to install his own electric vehicle (EV) charging station.

David Jankovic saw the amount of parking pads built by neighbours and decided to install one of his own. Unfortunately, he said he wasn’t aware a permit was required first and a complaint led to him seeking approval after the fact. He sought approval of his neighbours who responded positively in a vote, but several spoiled ballots were counted as votes against his efforts.

The process led to his appeal being brought before the Toronto and East York Community Council meeting late last month, where the majority of councillors ultimately voted against allowing him to keep the pad. Councillors like Gord Perks argued against parking pads, saying there’s no way to ensure people will actually use one for an EV and that allowing cars to drive over sidewalks puts pedestrians at risk.

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Jankovic said he’s been left frustrated by the process, which he feels is at odds with the city’s own goals of reaching carbon neutrality.

“It’s a lot of hypocrisy,” he told Global News.

The City’s current climate change strategy includes the goal of ensuring that 30 per cent of all registered vehicles in Toronto are electric by 2030.

“Coun. Perks was citing the climate action plan. It sounds good in theory, but when it comes down to actually implementing it on it on a person-to-person basis, to start making the change, it gives you a helpless feeling where you can’t actually do something,” Jankovic said.

There are currently no charging stations on his street and he said it would be unsafe to run a power cable over the sidewalk, so the goal of reducing his own carbon footprint now seems out of reach.

It’s not the first time the community council has hit the brakes on a resident’s EV charging aspirations. Perks often cites the city’s inability to put a gas station on residents’ front lawns as why individual charging stations aren’t a viable way to expand the city’s network of chargers.

The plan, in part, aims to expand chargers in public parking lots where residents can park overnight, and even Perks conceded it may not be moving fast enough.

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“But we’re not going to get out of that in-between moment with a few home owners saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to get an EV’ even though we can’t force them to get an EV,” Perks said. “We’re only going to get there by building out a large infrastructure city-wide.”

Councillors Brad Bradford and Josh Matlow argued at last month’s meeting that the city should be doing more to allow residents to seek a viable charging plan. It’s a position Bradford is standing by, urging the city to be less rigid while there is a lack of stations needed for residents who want to make the switch away from gas combustion engines.

“We need to provide options for people at home to take care of charging at their own place and that’s going to require some flexibility in front yard parking,” said Bradford.

“It’s going to require a new approach that the city hasn’t embraced before, because there frankly wasn’t the need like there is right now,” he said.

For now, Jankovic is looking at his options for appealing the decision made at community council, where he said he was open to installing bricks that are porous and allow more water absorption from rain. But without a charging station of his own, he said the reality of being able to move away from gasoline on his next vehicle doesn’t seem attainable.

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