Critics question minimum price requirement on B.C. e-bike rebates

Click to play video: 'Critics question price limit on government e-bike rebates'
Critics question price limit on government e-bike rebates
More questions about the B.C. government's wildly popular e-bike rebate program -- which 'sold out' hours after it launched. As Kristen Robinson reports, some question why the rebates only apply to bikes priced at $2,000 or more – Jun 5, 2023

There are more questions and controversy over the B.C. government’s wildly popular rebate program for electric bikes, with people on fixed incomes criticizing the province’s “price point” for qualifying.

“It’s out of their reach,” Port Coquitlam resident Lorelie Munroe told Global News Monday.

Munroe has been on the ride of a lifetime since purchasing a new electric bike last week.

“It’s opened up a whole new world for me, given me so much more independence and freedom,” Munroe said. “I love it.”

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

Munroe, who suffers from anxiety and lives on disability, saved for more than a year to buy the e-bike for $1,200 at auction.

Story continues below advertisement

To qualify for the B.C. E-Bike Rebate Program, buyers must select a model with a purchase price of at least $2,000 before taxes.

Living below the poverty line, Munroe said it would take three and a half years to come up with that kind of cash.

“$2000 might not be much to a regular household income but it’s, like almost unachievable odds for someone like me,” they said.

B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the province engaged in considerable consultation regarding the average e-bike price and commuter quality prior to rolling out the program.

“That ($2,000) was really the price point that the research suggested gave somebody the opportunity to purchase one of these e-bikes with a good battery pack and a high consumer rating,” Fleming told Global News in an interview Monday.

Demand temporarily crashed the government website when the program, which offers rebates from $350 to $1,400 depending on income, launched June 1.

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

Almost 12,000 applications were received in the first 24 hours with two-thirds or close to 8,000 people, including Nanaimo’s Jennifer Franklin, landing on a wait list.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m curious why they weren’t able at a certain point to direct you straight to the waiting list or let you know that applications were full,” Franklin said.

“I found that part quite frustrating.”

Fleming said the response was beyond what government expected and noted “it’s a good problem to have.”

About 83 per cent of the first 4,000 applicants Fleming said, had a net income of $39,000 or less.

When asked whether more money would be added to the $6 million program to accommodate the demand, he said the province is monitoring applications and the wait list, and expects some movement.

Click to play video: 'E-battery blamed for another Vancouver fire'
E-battery blamed for another Vancouver fire

Fleming said if some applicants don’t make the e-bike purchase within 30 days, people on the wait list may move up and be approved.

Story continues below advertisement

Further incentivizing the purchase of e-bikes by lowering the purchase price point may also be on the table in the future.

“I don’t think were ruling out anything that the data informs us would be a good idea to perform some tweaks on the program,” Fleming told Global News.

Munroe believes the government has good intentions but just hopes everyone can be included in the drive to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“It just made me really sad to realize like how much it’s benefitted me, how much it could benefit other people living below the poverty level.”

Sponsored content