Jim Standen, VEVC Member
Salt Spring Island, BC
As I finished my BCSEA Webinar, Silence in the Streets: The Future of Transport in BC and watched our Salt Spring Island (SSI) EV Celebration film again, I sat back and paused to reflect on how much progress we have made with the growth of fully electric vehicles ownership on SSI.
We were an EV backwater of a few vehicles, mostly conversions by our EV pioneers, Alan Kirk and Jon Healey under 3 years ago. Elizabeth May had just opened our Level 2 charger at our local Arts theater and a few vendors had displayed their models. Not a lot of action and not much momentum.
Where are we today? The highest density in Canada with over 75 units over a population of 10,000, which is a startling 15 TIMES the average EV ownership across the nation. We have notable repercussions of that ownership. As a fleet, we no longer bring over 85,000 liters of fuel per year on BC Ferries and our air is cleaner as we are no longer producing over 175 tonnes of green house gases.
I am so proud of those figures.
How did this happen?
We focused on Metrics. As the numbers began to grow, we initially wanted to answer the question, “How many are there now?” So we started a database. This allowed us to be able to answer that question, and eventually address many others:
How many RED Nissan LEAFs are there? 9
What EV is the most popular? Nissan LEAF, 46
Can we calculate our GHG emission reductions? Can we calculate how many oil changes are no longer required?. In other words, we could use our gathered metrics to reliably and accurately measure our progress.
Here is a sample calculation. We did a survey of our owners to determine their average annual driving distance. We consulted statistical tables to determine the average liters/kilometer driven. We knew the number of cars, so presto, 7,000 liters of fuel per month is no longer required to be shipped to our island. Each additional EV entering our island fleet increases that number and we can quickly calculate the benefit.
We made connections. Every owner of an EV is given an “Etiquette Card” and encouraged to join Transition Salt Spring. We have monthly Green Drinks. All these connections inspired a community of similar minded folks. And they helped spread the word.
We became a transition town. Salt Spring Island has been a transition town for many years and that gave us an umbrella organization to work on transportation solutions, more local produce, community gardens, high school solar panels (supporting a scholarship program), a unique local abattoir and many others.
We focused on celebration. We get involved with Canada Day, Earth Day, our own unique events like our Energy Conference and ECO Home Tour. In 2015 we had an EV Show that drew 20% attendance from off island and injected over $10,000 into the local economy. The Victoria EV Club was there in full force and fully appreciated. After the smoke cleared, 10 EV were sold to islanders worth an estimated total of $300,000.
We focused on Partnering and Collaboration. We build relationships with Motorize Auto Direct, Campus Nissan and Sun Country Highways to support 6 free-to-use Level 2 chargers at Island Savings, Country Grocer and Moby’s Marine Pub and Oyster Bar. Our partners have been rewarded from their association with us.
Yes, all of those helped, but they were not the key. And so I backed up and replayed the tape and looked for the foundation ingredients. It came down to an island with caring people.
As an island we are effectively an earth in miniature. As an example we have no garbage dump, so we recycle and compost like crazy. Our limits give us an awareness of the fragility of the planet and make us “ultra sensitive” to how our actions affect the environment.
We are also aware from our other local initiatives over the years, that a few kind-hearted folks can make a big difference. Folks like Peter Lamb and Andrew Haigh. They believed in the mission and provided the ongoing gentle encouragement. And of course, our friend and EV EVangelist from Victoria, Fred Wissemann.
Salt Spring Island
Panorama of Salt Spring Island, Photo by Bruno Gonzalez