Excellence in Sustainability

The Community Excellence Awards recognize and celebrate UBCM members that excel in meeting the purposes of local government and demonstrate successful pathways for others to follow. This week we are highlighting the Regional District of East Kootenay, our 2018 winner in the sustainability category, for its Accelerate Kootenays project  - a collaboration with the Regional Districts of Central Kootenay and Kootenay-Boundary that has resulted in Canada’s first community-driven regional electric vehicle (EV) charging network.

This 2-year, $1.8 million project has addressed a key infrastructure gap in BC by installing 13 DC Fast Chargers and 40 Level 2 charging stations across the Kootenays.

Accelerate Kootenays demonstrates the successful integration of the four pillars of sustainability in a single initiative. The project aligns with the travel needs of rural communities; builds social change by increasing the practicality of EVs outside of urban centres; generates sustainable economic benefits by bringing EV tourism into the region through the branding Highway 3 as the “electric highway”; and decreasing the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions currently attributed to transportation in the region.

All levels of government worked together to realize this project, including the Government of Canada, the Province of BC, the three Kootenay regional districts and 24 resident municipalities. The partnership behind the project also included two National Parks, numerous local residents and businesses, and corporate partners BC Hydro, FortisBC, and Teck Resources.

This project is intended to be replicable for other rural areas, and the model is already being pursued by a coalition of five other Regional Districts in Northern BC and several local governments in South-eastern Alberta wishing to extend the Hwy 3 charging network into their province.

The Excellence in Sustainability category acknowledges UBCM members that incorporate a long-term sustainability lens by considering the four pillars - cultural, social, economic and environmental issues - in planning, policy and practice.

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