Saanich condo owner helps fellow residents get electric-vehicle charging

A Saanich condo owner has made his building the first multi-family complex in the region to be retrofitted so that residents can have electric-vehicle chargers at their parking spots.

The Capital Regional District has the highest rate of new electric vehicle registrations on a percentage basis in Canada. However, most condo buildings lack the electrical ­infrastructure to enable a homeowner to install a charger. While a number of incentives are offered by ­different levels of government, it’s a time-consuming process to research.

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But Jim Church, a vice-­president of his 29-unit strata on Sayward Hill Crescent in Saanich, has just made the process a lot easier, even though he doesn’t even own an electric vehicle.

Church has compiled a point-by-point, how-to guide that he shares freely with other strata corporations and has made ­himself available to answer questions on the process.

Recently, the District of Saanich revealed that Church’s condo building, along with five nearby townhomes, was the first in the region to be EV-ready. Residents can install a Level 2 charging station (a high-speed charging protocol for electric vehicles) in their parking stalls at any time.

Church sees the EV retrofit as a way to combat global warming and protect property values. “EV Ready retrofits are an excellent opportunity to future-proof your building and ensure it’s ready to support electric vehicles,” he said. “Hopefully, the additional rebates being offered will prompt more buildings to begin the process.”

Church said he felt compelled to move forward on the project because of the enticing rebates the strata could take advantage of to defray the cost of the upgrade. In his strata’s case, half the $44,000 upgrade cost was covered by rebates. He estimates the retrofit cost for each unit in his strata was about $1,600.

The CleanBC Go Electric EV Charger Rebate Program is funded by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and administered by B.C. Hydro in the capital region. The program provides rebates for an EV Ready plan, the electrical upgrades needed to make the building EV Ready and the EV chargers. The program also offers the services of a free EV adviser to provide guidance and support at each step of the ­process.

The District of Saanich was the first municipality in B.C. to offer incentives to retrofit EV chargers in existing multi-family buildings. Church’s building was the first of 167 condo buildings in the municipality to complete the upgrade.

To streamline support, the rebates offered by Saanich have been integrated with existing provincial rebates and include up to $3,000 (or 75 per cent of the costs) for an EV Ready plan, plus a $1,000 top-up incentive from the municipality.

Stratas can receive up to $600 per parking space (up to $80,000 per building or 50 per cent of costs) to implement EV Ready upgrades, plus a $100 per stall top-up incentive and up to $14,000 in incentives for EV charging stations.

As of September last year, all new multi-unit building applications in Saanich are required to have EV-charging infrastructure in place, said Maggie Baynham, senior sustainability planner with the municipality. “At a cost of between $300 and $700 per spot, you can see that it is more cost-effective to build-in the EV infrastructure during new ­construction.”

As he showed off the new charging infrastructure in his building, the end result of a two-year project, Church confessed that he does not own an electric vehicle — yet.

“I am happy with the General Motors vehicle that I currently drive,” he said. “I went down to the dealer to see if there was an electrified version of my vehicle yet. There wasn’t one, but the dealer promised they would call as soon as GM announces their intention to build one.

“I’m in no rush, but when the time comes for me to get my electric vehicle, I’ll be ready.”

Church can be reached at

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