The owner of Haliburton’s first publicly accessible electric vehicle charging station welcomes local municipalities forging ahead with their own.

Rhubarb Restaurant owner Terri Matthews introduced a Tesla vehicle charger at her business in 2017. Now, municipalities have begun to approve new stations in all four townships.

Algonquin Highlands, Dysart et al, Minden Hills and Highlands East councils have all agreed to an option that would install the stations by fall. Matthews said it is a great idea.

“We truly believe that it’s necessary. That electric cars are the wave of the future,” Matthews said. “People have to spend half an hour to one-hour charging, so why not walk around town, shopping, visit restaurants?”

The initiative comes from the County level. The approved stations would tentatively be located at the A.J. LaRue Arena and Head Lake Park welcome centre in Dysart, the township office in Minden and at the Wilberforce municipal office in Highlands East.

Dysart, Highlands East, Minden Hills and Algonquin Highlands also all opted to join a federally funded program from Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One instead of owning the stations at a municipal level. This will mean the companies will own the charging stations, with no up-front municipal cost but an annual service fee between $2,400-$4,000 depending on the site. Comparatively, owning them municipally could cost municipalities $15,000-$25,000 to install (but with an up to $10,000 grant reimbursement per station) and a $500-$1,800 annual fee.

Dysart deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy said he did not want to invest in a municipally owned station only for it to go out of date. He also said the municipality should do the minimum until more private companies start installing.

“I’m a little reluctant, with technology changing so fast, to buy one of these stations,” Kennedy said.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said the chargers represent economic development, given people will plan their routes around stopping to charge.

Matthews said that has happened at her restaurant.

“It’s brought people into the County who may not have come otherwise because it shows up on people’s (phone) apps,” she said. “We’ve had people numerous times come off of the highway because we’re the closest charger.”

Matthews said they installed one because there were no other options at the time. She also said although she expected the County to move forward sooner, it is positive that there are public chargers coming.

“It’s necessary,” she said. “It’s good for the town and good for the visitors. Especially since everything in the County is a fair distance apart.”

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