Road warriors who have the Thunder Bay area on their itinerary this summer might end up venturing into the city’s downtown whether they like it or not if they’re behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Options for travellers for charging battery-powered cars and pickup trucks appear to be non-existent in popular tourist stops just outside Thunder Bay like Kakabeka Falls, Murillo and Rosslyn.

Not that it’s hurting tourism — most travellers coming through the Lakehead seem to be sticking with gasoline.

“It is very rare that someone has an EV, although I’m not in the habit of popping the hoods of my customers’ vehicles and checking,” Kakabeka motel operator Dave Paterson remarked Wednesday.

Paterson recalled one guest who plugged his combination hybrid-EV into one of the motel’s parking lot outlets overnight. The regular 110-volt outlet didn’t generate a lot of juice.

“I think he said he got the equivalent of about $5 worth of gas,” Paterson said.

Service stations in Shabaqua, Kaministiquia and at the Flying J truck stop east of Thunder Bay at Pass Lake all told The Chronicle-Journal that they do not currently offer EV charging stations.

Attendants had a common refrain when asked about an EV charger: “You’re the first person who’s ever asked.”

Even Thunder Bay’s Terry Fox visitor’s centre on Highway 11-17 doesn’t offer a charger for electric vehicles, although the option of providing one is being explored.

“It’s a desired need, so we’re working on that,” said Tourism Thunder Bay manager Paul Pepe.

Pepe said the number of tourists who come to the Lakehead behind the wheel of an EV is growing “slow and steady.”

The city itself is fairly well-fixed for public charging stations.

And it still offers to cover 50 per cent of the cost of installing one through its Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC).

“We want to see them available at hotels, and we’re glad to see that happening,” Pepe said.

According to statistics on CEDC’s website, there were more than 54,000 zero-emission vehicles registered in Canada in 2020.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, some Northern Ontario NDP MPs took the federal and provincial governments to task for failing to ensure a reliable national network of EV charging stations.

“This has been a failure of both the provincial and federal governments.,” Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus said in a news release.

“The electric-vehicle economy (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau loves to talk about won’t take off without the infrastructure being there.”

Petro-Canada has yet to say why its EV charging stations recently were out of service in Marathon and Wawa.

By Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 20, 2023 at 10:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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