The Spences Bridge EV charging station (l) will have to be removed unless an agreement is reached within the next six weeks regarding its future. An objection to the current site is that it might interfere with first responders at the nearby fire hall. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

The Spences Bridge EV charging station (l) will have to be removed unless an agreement is reached within the next six weeks regarding its future. An objection to the current site is that it might interfere with first responders at the nearby fire hall. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Spences Bridge could lose charging station at end of January

TNRD offer to build washroom at site and pay legal fees is not acceptable to trustees

The trustees of the Spences Bridge Improvement District (SBID) have indicated that they do not plan to accept an offer that would help pave the way for the fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) station to remain in the community, and there are no plans to take the offer to the community for information and input. Unless the situation changes, it means that BC Hydro will be removing the station in early 2021.

The offer comes from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD), which has told the SBID that it will construct a washroom at the charging station site and provide funding so that the SBID can hire a lawyer to go over a new lease agreement. SBID trustees have indicated that these are two stumbling-blocks when it comes to the station; a third, about maintaining the site, has been addressed by TNRD Area “I” director Steve Rice, who says that volunteers will look after maintaining the site.

The SBID is currently involved in a five-year lease agreement with the TNRD and BC Hydro regarding the station, which sits on land adjacent to the Spences Bridge fire hall. The lease expires at the end of January 2021, and BC Hydro wants to enter into a direct lease agreement with the SBID, which would see the station remain in its current location for 10 years at a lease rate of $1 per year.

The SBID board has objected to the location, saying that it is a potential obstruction for first responders using the fire hall. They have also raised concerns about people urinating and defecating at the site, snow removal around the station, and the lack of paving.

READ MORE: Controversy in Spences Bridge over fate of EV charging station

Board chair Michael Jefferson argues that the SBID’s letters patent do not afford it the mandate to host or look after the station. However, the SBID told BC Hydro that they could keep the station where it is if they built a full-service washroom there and paid the improvement district $15 a day.

“That would open up a budget under the SBID to hire a maintenance person and create a job,” says Jefferson. “The lack of washrooms is an issue, and we wanted them to do upgrading of the site and pave the area. BC Hydro rejected that, saying it’s not in their mandate. It’s not in our letters patent to subsidize BC Hydro.”

Speaking with the Journal, Jefferson initially said that he was not aware of the TNRD offer. However, both Ron Storie — director of community services for the TNRD — and Alec Tsang, who is in charge of EV infrastructure planning for BC Hydro, say that the offer has been made to the SBID board.

“By phone, Michael has told me that [the offer] won’t work for various reasons,” says Tsang. “He said they don’t have the mandate to lease the land to anybody so can’t do it legally. Other local governments have been able to lease land to our stations for the purpose [of EV stations], so I don’t know what to make of that.”

Tsang is blunt about what the lack of an agreement will mean. “If we don’t get a licence of occupation before the current lease runs out we’ll have to remove the charging station, as we’ll have no right to be on that land.”

Storie says that the TNRD has committed to putting a toilet facility at the site. It will be a joint, concrete-cast, unisex washroom with hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but no running water, similar to what the Ministry of Transportation puts in at highway rest stops. He confirms that there has also been a commitment regarding volunteers to clean the washroom, as well as money to vet the contract between the SBID and BC Hydro. “The SBID says their letters patent don’t allow them to do this [pay a lawyer to vet the contract],” he says.

“This is the best site for [the EV station],” Storie adds. It is a view echoed by Tsang, who says that if residents want the station to stay, BC Hydro would want to keep it in its current location.

“The TNRD conducted a survey to see if there was support for the station, and it had strong support,” he explains. The current site was also the favoured location of the majority of survey respondents. Moving it to another site could be difficult.

“Another site would have to meet our criteria. If it’s on private land it’s easier. If it’s on public land it’s more difficult, because if residents then oppose it we could be in the same position [we’re in now] after going to the expense of moving it.”

Jefferson — who says that he does not recall the survey — is not opposed to the idea of an EV station in Spences Bridge, but says it cannot be on SBID land.

“We’re trying to attract business, so it should be on the highway. The economy in Spences Bridge is very fragile, and the logical location is on the South Frontage Road within five minutes’ walk of amenities. The SBID position is that we support having a charging station in Spences Bridge, but the SBID cannot host it.”

Asked why the board of trustees (Jefferson, Ross Figley, and Cheryl Klyne) nonetheless made an offer to BC Hydro to continue hosting the station, Jefferson says “We made the offer because we’re trying to make it work. In order for us to host it we need $15 a day and washrooms.”

When asked why the TNRD offer is not acceptable, Jefferson says “Any offer from the TNRD is suspect. They are sticking their nose in the SBID. It’s a political agenda being advanced by Rice. He wants it there to serve his political agenda, to further the TNRD agenda to take over the SBID. If the TNRD comes in in any way, shape, or form it will be the end of the Spences Bridge Improvement District.

“It’s not the TNRD’s mandate to do such things, to step on the SBID and take them over. The [current] site was chosen for political purposes. BC Hydro [-built] washrooms would be an SBID asset. TNRD washrooms would eliminate the SBID from the equation. If the TNRD does this it would be the thin end of the wedge. The TNRD doesn’t do anything for free. We can’t rely on the TNRD. They’ve shown their cards. They’re not friendly to Spences Bridge.”

Jefferson feels that the solution is for BC Hydro and the Ministry of Transportation to partner together to find a new site for the station. “The station has nothing to do with our mandate. We said move it; what you do with it after that, we don’t care.”

In reply to Tsang’s comment about BC Hydro leasing land from other local governments, Jefferson says “Maybe we’re the only location where people have looked at their mandate to see if they can lawfully host such a thing.”

He adds that the TNRD offer will not be on the agenda of the SBID’s next meeting, in January, and that the board of trustees does not have any plans to bring the offer to the community’s residents for review or discussion.

“It’s not our mandate to entertain these questions. The only reason we’re dealing with it now is because we’re stuck with it from five years ago. It’s an albatross around the SBID’s neck. We can’t be the host, and it’s not fair for BC Hydro or the TNRD to say so. The solution — from my personal perspective and from the trustees — is move it to the highway. That’s the opinion of the community, and has been for some time. That way the Province can support Spences Bridge instead of taking things away.”

Tsang says that, based on the TNRD’s offer of support for the station with a washroom and legal supports, they are prepared to leave the station where it is if the SBID signs a licence of occupation.

“The ball is in their court, and we’re waiting for an official response. We’re giving stakeholders from Spences Bridge time to work things out, and we want to support those stakeholders by giving them a chance to keep a station.”

Asked if BC Hydro has encountered this type of difficulty anywhere else it has put EV charging stations, Tsang says no.

“BC Hydro has almost 80 fast charging sites across the province, and this is the first time we’re run into this situation.”



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Spences Bridge

Just Posted

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

The Desert Daze Music Festival is doggone good fun, as shown in this photo from the 2019 festival, and it will be back in Spences Bridge this September. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
‘Best Little Fest in the West’ returning to Spences Bridge

Belated 10th anniversary Desert Daze festival going ahead with music, vendors, workshops, and more

Internet speed graphic, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay
Study asks for public input to show actual Internet speeds in BC communities

Federal maps showing Internet speeds might be inflated, so communities lose out on faster Internet

Fireworks are among the things now banned throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, as the weather heats up and a dry summer looms. (Photo credit: Black Press files)
Category 2 and 3 open fires, fireworks now banned in Kamloops Fire Centre

Ban on certain types of fires and fire activities in place until Oct. 15

Cache Creek Village office, date unknown. (Photo credit: Wendy Coomber)
Cache Creek eyes water conservation bylaw as usage increases

Water bylaw was considered in 2019 but did not move forward

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read