Massive demand as B.C. launches new e-bike rebate program

Click to play video: 'B.C. government e-bike rebate program begins'
B.C. government e-bike rebate program begins
WATCH: The B.C. government's rebate program for the purchase of electric bikes begins Thursday. As Aaron McArthur reports, it's already popular enough to temporarily crash the government website. – Jun 1, 2023

There was no shortage of interest Thursday as the B.C. government opened applications for its new electric bicycle rebate program.

The provincial government has created a fund of $6 million, available as of June 1, to offset the cost of e-bikes.

Under the program, people aged 19 and up are eligible for rebates ranging from $350 to $1,400 on bikes priced $2,000 or more.

B.C. e-bike rebates by income threshold.

The demand was swift, with more than 1,600 applications lodged in the first 30 minutes the website was open, and multiple reports of tech glitches and crashes.

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Paul Dragan, who operates Vancouver’s Reckless Bike Stores, wasn’t surprised at the interest, telling Global News the popularity of e-bikes has soared in the last decade.

“We have three or four that are going to go out today or tomorrow because people said I’m going to buy it as son as the program is announced,” he said in an interview Thursday.

“We think its a great thing. There’s been a subsidy for electric cars for a number of years. Bikes, as everybody knows, are good for your health, good for your mental health, do not contribute to global warming as much as some other methods of transportation, and they’re good for your health.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. introducing new e-bike rebate program Thursday'
B.C. introducing new e-bike rebate program Thursday

The B.C. government previously made e-bikes PST free in 2021.

The program, however, may be too popular for its own good — as Thursday’s glitches demonstrated.

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“I don’t think we underestimated it, but perhaps we need to work on our technology infrastructure a little bit,” Environment Minister George Heyman said of the website issues.

What’s more, there are questions about whether the $6-million pool of funding was already drained in a single day.

By late afternoon, applicants on the rebate website were directed to a wait list for the program. Whether the province will move to top funding up remains to be seen.

“We’re constantly reviewing these programs to ensure they have the funds they need and that they are accessible to people,” Heyman said.

To support the safety of e-bike riders, the province is also partnering with HUB Cycling for a Streetwise Cycling Online program and in-person courses to teach fundamental bike-handling skills like hand signals, balancing and maneuvering.

You can find out more about the rebate program here. 

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