‘Jump start’: B.C.’s e-bike craze in full swing as rebate wait-list exceeds 7,000 people

Click to play video: 'B.C. e-bike rebate program overloads'
B.C. e-bike rebate program overloads
WATCH: It appears that the B.C. government's new rebate program for electric bicycles might have been a little too popular, as all of the applications were snapped up in about eight hours. Kristen Robinson reports – Jun 2, 2023

British Columbia’s electric bicycle craze is in full swing, with the wait-list to receive one of the province’s highly coveted rebates now exceeding 7,000 people.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure launched the program Thursday, with its administrator, the BC Scrap-it Society, receiving nearly 12,000 applications in the first 24 hours.

“I am excited to see that people are so interested in our e-bike rebate program, and that so many are taking us up on it so quickly,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said in an emailed statement. “By lowering the cost of e-bikes, we’re helping to make efficient, climate-friendly travel more accessible to people in B.C.”

According to the province, current and future wait-listed applications will retain their spot in line, in case other applications aren’t approved or used within the required timeframe.

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The province initially allocated more than $6 million to the income-based rebates, which range from $350 to $1,400 for those 19 and older. The ministry estimated the program would allow up to 9,000 people to access the rebates.

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Under the new program, residents can apply with evidence of their income to receive a pre-approval for their rebate, then purchase an approved e-bike within 30 days to claim it.

More than 4,000 applications were received in less than eight hours, crashing the website at times. The government’s previous e-bike rebate program, by comparison, received an average of 16 applications per month.

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Alistair Barrett, manager of North Vancouver’s Obsession E-Bikes, said the new rebate program has given e-bike popularity a “jump start.”

“We’ve seen a lot more traffic through the store since it was announced last week. People are realizing that they can get into e-bike transportation at a much more affordable cost,” he told Global News on Friday.

“A lot of people have been thinking about getting into an e-bike, they just needed that extra push, that motivation.”

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Barrett said many customers have come into the shop to reserve an e-bike and are now waiting for their rebate approval to buy it.

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Tech Talk: Back-to-school e-bike options and accessories

Marie Horstead was one of many British Columbians who logged onto the computer to apply for the rebate on Thursday morning but encountered technical glitches. She said she refreshed the website multiple times, and almost “resigned” herself to defeat.

“But after a few hours of trying, I was able to complete the application and send it in, and I got the confirmation that they got the information I needed to provide,” she said in an interview.

“I was very excited. I really had resigned myself that maybe I wasn’t going to have the opportunity this time…. I had already imagined myself zooming around on my new e-bike.”

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Horstead said she’s still waiting to hear whether her application has been approved, but she’s already started to shop around.

Click to play video: 'B.C. government e-bike rebate program begins'
B.C. government e-bike rebate program begins

Cheryl Guichon, who already has an e-bike, said she was thinking about buying a new one. She tried to apply for the rebate Thursday as well, but kept receiving a message saying, “The server can’t connect.”

“I’d go in and I’d go out. It was clear that it was overloaded,” she said. “I was thinking for a government website it would work better, but they probably didn’t anticipate that much interest.”

Guichon said she loves the rebate program and hopes the government is able to continue investing beyond the $6 million.

The province is still accepting applicants to the wait-list.


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