Drivers who take up electric vehicle charging spots but don’t plug in should be zapped with a $125 fine, says the Tory MPP who has proposed a private member’s bill to address a growing frustration for eco-friendly motorists.
Markham-Stouffville MPP Paul Calandra bought a hybrid vehicle, a Ford Fusion, last October and started noticing — particularly at the local mall — how charging spots were being blocked.
After doing a bit of research online, he said it became apparent he wasn’t the only one.
“It is extraordinarily frustrating,” said Calandra, adding in his experience it’s mostly electric vehicle owners “who are using it as an opportunity to park near the door, be it the mall or where ever these stations are.”
Business owners “make a sizable investment to put stations in, and people now have needs to charge and are coming from different locations,” he said. “They’ve gone on apps to see where the station is and when they get there it’s blocked by somebody who is not charging.”
Drivers and business owners are “irritated beyond belief,” Calandra added.
Some U.S. jurisdictions have or are considering laws banning cars from taking up those spots if they’re not being charged.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said he supports such a move in Ontario because it “would be good to have legislation in place that prevents motorists or at least penalize people who block EV charging stations and use them inappropriately.”
But Schreiner, who drives a Chevy Volt, called it a “drop in the bucket.” The Ford government, he added, is “missing in action,” doing little to “actually prioritize the transition to electric vehicles…I believe Ontario can and should be the global leader in manufacturing electric vehicles. We have the facilities, and we have the workforce,” he added.
“The premier is sabotaging clean-economy solutions.”
He said he’s seen both electric and gas-powered vehicle owners needlessly occupy charging spots.
Calandra proposed his Bill 123 in early June to amend the Highway Traffic Act. However, he was soon after promoted to government house leader in Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet shuffle, so he’s now looking for a colleague to take over or hoping the change can be incorporated into other upcoming legislation once the house resumes in October.
Online message boards show EV owners are fed up with what’s called blocking or ICE-ing — which refers to internal combustion engine vehicles.
The PC MPP bought his Ford Fusion last year “and it was my first foray into it, but I have to tell you I love it.”
He said his car uses about 3.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, whereas his previous car — a Lincoln — was “never under 14. That was with a four-cylinder engine.
“There’s just no comparison.”
Calandra says his bill is “fairly important in the sense of changing attitudes” and has the support of the opposition. “I really want to get it passed so we will find whatever avenue to get it done.”
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Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy