‘It’s a bit ridiculous’: Toronto man frustrated after EV charging plans shut down

Click to play video: 'Toronto homeowner left frustrated by city hall over parking pad charger denial'
Toronto homeowner left frustrated by city hall over parking pad charger denial
A Toronto homeowner thought the extra consultation he paid for would allow a permit to build a parking pad to install an electric vehicle charger. Instead, after more than a year, he was denied, despite the city’s ongoing efforts to dramatically increase charging to accommodate a dramatic increase in EV’s. Matthew Bingley reports. – Sep 22, 2023

A Toronto man hoping to make the switch to an electric vehicle was left frustrated after consulting and working with the city for more than a year and a half, only to have his request to build a parking pad to support a charging station denied.

Mark Bishop said he’s been wanting to do his part to be more climate-friendly and is actively shopping to trade in his gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.

But Bishop wanted the stability of having a place to charge it first. His shared driveway carried no guarantee of that if his neighbour moved, but several people on his street already had parking pads, prompting Bishop to explore building one of his own.

“We are trying to look forward and take responsibility for our actions, of investing in an electric vehicle, investing in charging, of still protecting the environment, of investing in trees, and all of these things,” he said.

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Bishop enlisted consultants to design a pad that factored in the need to allow water absorption to mitigate flooding and to figure out how to move a small city tree about a metre. That seven-centimetre diameter tree, one Bishop requested the city plant years ago, ultimately led to his request being denied following a vote by Toronto and East York community council earlier this week.

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“It was really frustrating that the discussion went in a completely different turn, to actually be having conversations about whether or not homeowners should even be investing in EV charging stations in their home,” he said.

What made the issue more frustrating, he said, was the fact he had offered to pay for the cost of moving the tree and for five new trees for the city.

“We would love for the city to put a charging station in on every corner, if the city had unlimited resources,” Bishop said. “That would be a wonderful thing.”

Parkdale-High Park Coun. Gord Perks actively spoke out against Bishop’s proposal at community council, maintaining that parking pads are counter to city priorities. He told Global News he has always voted against them and will continue to do so because they increase vehicle traffic over sidewalks and contribute to flooding risks.

Perks also said the proposal was flawed and despite Bishop’s private consultant’s assertion the tree could be moved without harming it, city arborists ultimately said that wasn’t the case.

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The debate comes at the same time the city is actively consulting with residents about what their preferences are for the city’s future EV charging network. It needs to dramatically increase the number of chargers to meet its own goals of having EVs represent 30 per cent of all registered vehicles, from the current two per cent level.

Perks maintains allowing residents to install private parking pads isn’t the way to achieve those numbers. He said it was “laughable” to think the city’s needs were going to be reached “one pad at a time.”

“We literally have to get hundreds of thousands of vehicles to become electric vehicles,” Perks said. “We aren’t going to do that with hundreds of thousands of pads on people’s front yards.

“We’re going to need an infrastructure that’s shared, the way you don’t have gas stations on people’s lawns, you have gas stations.”

Beaches-East York Coun. Brad Bradford said Bishop has been caught in the crosshairs of an ideological battle at city hall between councillors who are “anti-car” and those offering practical solutions for residents. Bradford said the city is never going to reach its own climate goals if it continues throwing up roadblocks for residents like Bishop.

“Making sure people have a pathway to electric vehicles is important,” Bradford said, especially, he said, as the city works towards its own targets.

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“We need to provide practical pathways to electric vehicle adoption. Front yard parking, in some instances, is going to be the way to go.”

Bishop isn’t sure what he’s going to do next. For now, he just knows an EV isn’t practical for where he lives. He said if the kind of communal charging infrastructure Perks suggested were available, the situation may be different.

“If you’ve looked at some of the pilot projects that have been done so far, it’s a bit ridiculous,” he said.

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