The Canadian Rockies International Airport will be adding six charging stations for electric vehicles as part of partnership with governments and other stakeholders to expand a network of EV charging stations across the Kootenays.
Tristen Chernove, the CEO of Elevate Airports, which manages the Cranbrook airport, made the announcement on Tuesday morning, alongside a group that included representatives from Accelerate Kootenays — a community-driven effort that includes local government, non-profits and businesses working to expand the EV charging network.
The charging stations are envisioned as a service to top up battery charges for new arrivals who have had an electric vehicle sitting in the parking area for the duration of a trip, said Chernove.
He also touched on some advances in the electrification of air travel technology, such as an all-electric seaplane from Harbour Air, and a hydrogen-electric rotary wing aircraft being tested by HeliJet.
Air Canada also recently made headlines for purchasing 30 battery-powered aircraft with a range of 200 nautical miles, which expands to 800 miles when supplemented by on-board generators.
“This industry is making some tremendous gains that a lot of people might not be aware of and British Columbia is a global leader in this,” said Chernove.
“…So these are all things that aren’t the future; they’re happening immediately and I want to make sure this airport has the infrastructure in place to be able to receive the benefit of these fleets that come on board.”
Accelerate Kootenays began four years ago with an initial pool of $2 million in funding.
Since that first tranche of funding, 40 Level 2 and 13 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) have been deployed in the Kootenays.
Now, a second infusion of $1 million in funding from the federal government will help expand that network, with the goal of adding over 90 charging stations, according to Megan Lohmann, community energy manager with the RDEK.
Rob Gay, the RDEK board chair, noted a group of mayors and regional district chairs — the Highway 3 Mayors and Chairs Committee — pushed for the idea of electrifying the major thoroughfare for southeastern B.C. from Hope to Medicine Hat.
Efforts to build an electric charging network has not gone unnoticed, as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recognized Accelerate Kootenays with a sustainable community award in 2020.
Gay lauded the work from the Accelerate Kootenays conglomerate, noting that the region is punching near, or above its weight, for electric vehicle ownership and the development of the region’s charging network.
“This is a tremendous feat for such a small rural area,” Gay said. “Community stakeholders, businesses and tourism organizations, educational institutes and other governments have embraced the effort to build a clean transportation network.”