It’s small, it’s eye-catching and most importantly, it’s electric.
Just over two years after the Town of Qualicum Beach adopted a bylaw to allow the use of low speed electric vehicles on town streets, a resident and businesses owner in the community took advantage of the concept.
“I think it just makes sense,” said Craig Dutton, owner of Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Beach.
“I see it as a way of meeting the goals of sustainability that we have here in the community of Qualicum and I also see it as an incredible business opportunity and economic development opportunity for Qualicum and Oceanside.”
Dutton bought his electric vehicle — otherwise known as a neighbourhood electric vehicle (NEV) — from a company in Surrey called Electric Car British Columbia.
Unlike an electric car, which drives full speed and has no driving restrictions, Dutton’s’ NEV can drive up to 42 kilometres per hour and is allowed on Qualicum Beach streets that have posted speeds of 50 km per hour or less.
He believes the adoption of the bylaw will prove to be a good thing for his golf course in the coming years, as he is proposing a shuttle from town to the course, using a similar vehicle.
He also thinks the zero-emission vehicles are a great way to connect the town’s golf courses and he has some other ideas which could include local seniors’ facilities and Kwalikum Secondary School.
“I just think this thing will carry us as far as our political will and leadership in the community will take us,” he said, adding he can’t drive anywhere without people stopping him and inquiring about the vehicle.
Dutton was the first person to make use of the town’s new electric vehicle charging stations on Friday, recently installed in Town Hall’s underground parking lot.
Qualicum Beach Councillor Barry Avis welcomed Dutton and his new ride.
“This is good that you have your vehicle here,” said Avis.
“But the town for the last couple years has had this on our sight plan,” he said.
Avis said the town has been working hard to increase sustainability in the area with things like trail systems and promoting electric bicycles, and shortly it will add two municipal electric vehicles to this list.
Chief administrative officer for the town Mark Brown said this includes the Nissan Leaf, set to arrive in the summer, but won’t be available to buy in Canada until the following year. Another municipal electric vehicle will be unveiled on Valentine’s Day at town hall, Brown said.
Randy Holmquist, owner of Canadian Electric Vehicles in Errington, said business has grown substantially over the last few years.
Holmquist has been running the company for 20 years, over half of that time in Errington. His company makes electric utility trucks, electric tow units and conversion kits.
Although in the past he has been exporting the majority of his vehicles to countries like Dubai, Australia, China, Japan and the United States, he’s beginning to see sales to Canada increase, he said, especially with his NEV the Might-E-Truck.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in Canada,” he said. “Luckily we’ve had the rest of the world to carry us through to now, and now Canada’s catching up.”
Holmquist said they are currently building two trucks for a municipality on the West Coast of the Island and have sold others to Tofino, Colwood and Alert Bay.
He said every time the price of fuel goes up, his phone rings more frequently, as it did with last week’s fuel hike.
Dutton is happy for now being the only one cruising Qualicum’s streets in an electric vehicle, but with all the interest he’s seen over the last week, he’s sure it’s only a matter of time before other residents and other municipalities catch the electric buzz.
“I think this will be so positive that other places will follow Qualicum Beach’s lead and I think we’ll end up seeing these things all over the Island.”
For more information on Canadian Electric Vehicles in Errington visit www.canev.com or call 250-954-2230.