City to budget for 'green' vehicles for 2022 and beyond
City council has asked city staff to begin budgeting for 'green' vehicles as the city's fleet needs replacing. Statistics show it will greatly reduce the city's carbon footprint.
City council is taking a step to move to greener vehicles.
It passed a resolution moved by Ward 3 councillors Matthew Shoemaker and Donna Hilsinger Monday, directing staff to acquire battery electric vehicles for any new light-class unit vehicles that are acquired for the city fleet on a go-forward basis.
It also wants staff to continue monitoring options for the electrification of other classes of vehicle, including transit and public works fleet.
“The cost differential over the lifespan is a few per cent, and if we don’t do this, we are showing we aren’t serious to reduce our carbon footprint,” Shoemaker told city council. “This is an easy win.”
He added that everyone can see where vehicle fleets are headed, it’s just a matter of when the city gets there.
Council presented a report Monday as a result of a March 2020 resolution asking staff to examine the purchase of the vehicles and to help reduce its gas emissions inventory.
About 56 per cent of the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s greenhouse gas emissions come from fleet and equipment.
The report says that battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles for light class vehicles and buses, are all being purchased by municipalities in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
City staff’s result of a cost-comparison between battery electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles shows battery vehicles are about 106 per cent more expensive up front then their internal combustion engine counterparts.
However, when other aspects, including fuel costs, insurance costs, maintenance and emissions were factored in, battery emission vehicles result in about a 66 per cent savings over the course of 10 years.
The report also notes that the battery electric vehicles produce about 94 per cent less greenhouse gases than traditional vehicles.
Mayor Christian Provenzano said while the cost may require significant budgetary adjustment up front, as soon as the 2022 budget for vehicle purchases, the savings comes over the lifespan of the vehicle and, of course, helps the city reduce its carbon footprint.
Of the city’s 316 vehicles, 37 per cent (or 116 vehicles) are light-class or passenger cars. Excluding police cars, the city’s next largest fleet is its transit buses.
Staff also examined the benefits and drawbacks of costs with charging and availability of charging infrastructure, financial incentives and other costs.
“Battery electric vehicles are a low-carbon option that should be considered when replacing a vehicle in the city fleet. Not only will they reduce emissions, but they also result in long-term operations and maintenance cost savings,” the staff report reads.
Charging stations would also be required on city-owned property, but the number of stations has yet to be determined. Currently, government funding provides for about half of the cost of the units.
Brent Lamming, director of community services, told council that city transit has drafted a plan to convert half of its fleet by 2026 to electric vehicle. While the costs are almost double for a 40-foot bus, the advantage is that funding is supplied at 73-cent dollars.
“The sooner we get into this the better,” Lamming said, noting that larger centres, such as Ottawa and Toronto, have converted their fleets.
“We can be a fast follower,” he said.
“The sooner the better,” said Ward 5 Coun. Corey Gardi.
Provenzano agreed. “I think we need to do everything we can to help climate change.”
CAO Malcolm White said city staff will review the fleet needs for 2022 and seek the budgetary amount required at that time. It will be presented with the 2022 budget later this year.
He said that, currently, the city is not in need of replenishing a lot of its smaller vehicles, something that allows for the gradual implementation of the electric vehicles and easing up on the budgetary requirements in the short term.
It’s further recommended that a thorough inventory of all fleet and equipment be completed to understand current vehicle class breakdown as well as tracking regular mileage, fuel, operation and maintenance costs, in order to get a more accurate price comparison.