The province has revamped its e-bike incentive program, switching from one that required buyers to scrap their gas-guzzling vehicles to an income-based system modelled on one launched by the District of Saanich two years ago.
Rebates range from $350 to a maximum of $1,400 under the new program, effective June 1.
The province has set aside $6 million for the program, enough for up to 9,000 B.C. residents age 19 years and older to offset the cost of an approved e-bike purchase.
Under the program, someone earning less than $38,950 will qualify for a $1,400 rebate. That amount drops to $1,000 for those earning $38,951 to $51,130, and $350 for someone who makes over $51,131.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the high cost of e-bikes can put them out of reach for some people. “By making rebates available and basing the rebate amount on income, we can make e-bikes and clean transportation more affordable and accessible for everyone.”
As before, the provincial rebate program will be administered by the Scrap-It Society.
The provincial program is patterned on a pilot project launched in 2021 by the District of Saanich for its residents, with a maximum $1,600 rebate for the lowest-income group of buyers.
Rebecca Newlove, the district’s manager of sustainability, said when it was launched, it was the first of its kind in Canada. “We certainly did not expect it to be the massive success it became,” she said.
She said the municipality, with a population of just under 117,800, had paid out 389 rebates by November 2022.
While that rebate program has ended, Saanich says it will provide $30,000 in top-up funding to the provincial program for Saanich residents, on a first come, first served basis.
Mayor Dean Murdock said in a statement that the new provincial program “demonstrates the value of Saanich’s climate leadership,” and “means more people in Saanich can get around on bike and fewer people commuting by car.”
Corey Burger, policy and infrastructure chair for the cycling advocacy group Capital Bike, said Saanich’s pilot project was the “proof of concept” the province needed to introduce the incentive to a wider audience.
The e-bike market has grown exponentially for retailers in Victoria and the rest of the province.
Jonny Ainslie, shop manager for CIT-E Cycles Victoria, said three years ago, the industry was expected to grow 50 per cent in five years — about 10 per cent per year. “Then came the pandemic. We grew 50 per cent the first year and another 50 per cent in the second.”
Ainslie said the company’s four shops are currently at 100 per cent growth and the new rebates are only going to push demand up more.
“Saanich ran a great program, given the resources at their disposal. I feel that the provincial program is a little late to the table, but nevertheless will be a great boost to the industry.”
While the shop sells e-bikes priced at upwards of $20,000, he said the incentive will help the majority of buyers, who are looking for an affordable transportation option in the $2,000-to-$3,000 range.
Purchasers of bicycles have not had to pay the provincial sales tax since 2021, under another provincial incentive.
While it’s not covered under this program, businesses can access an e-cargo bike rebate through the provincial Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive.
The province also announced that it has partnered with Vancouver-based non-profit HUB Cycling to provide training in fundamental bike-handling skills, such as hand signals, balancing and manoeuvring. HUB will offer its Streetwise Cycling online program as well as in-person courses throughout the province.
For more information, and to apply for the rebate, go to bcebikerebates.ca.
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