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For the more than 1 million Ontario residents who live in condominiums, driving an electric vehicle (EV) has become a more viable option. Recent changes to the Condominium Act, 1998, address one of the primary barriers condo owners have faced: limited availability of EV charging stations (EVCS) at their condominiums. The revisions, which went into effect May 1,  2018, establish processes for getting EVCS installed in condominium buildings.   
Learn more about installing EVCS at your condominium corporation. Fill out the form to download our infographic. 
What Do the Changes Mean for Condominium Corporations? 
The Revised Act addresses two scenarios for EVCS installation: 
  • When the corporation takes responsibility for the installation of EVCS for shared use 
  • When unit owners make a request to install an EVCS in their parking spot 
As part of the new processes, the revisions lay out responsibilities and obligations, timelines, costs and dispute resolution.  
Considerations for a Corporation to Install EVCS  
Under the Revised Act, EVCS installations undertaken by the condo corporation can be exempt from requirements of Section 97 of the Condominium Act, 1998, if the corporation demonstrates the following criteria:   
  • The cost of the installation does not exceed 10% of the corporation’s current annual budget. 
  • The installation will not significantly affect residents’ enjoyment of their units or common areas. 
  • The board has given unit owners 60-days’ notice of the planned installation.  
The Revised Act also details an alternative possibility for exemption if the condominium corporation cannot meet these criteria.  
Considerations for a Unit Owner to Install EVCS  
The Revised Act specifies what is required by a unit owner to make an EVCS installation request to the board. The board can only reject the request for the following reasons: 
  • The installation will violate the Condominium Act, 1998, or other existing legislation. 
  • The installation will materially affect the structural or electrical integrity of the property. 
  • The installation will pose a credible health and safety risk to the occupants. 
In rejecting a request, the board must produce a supporting report from a qualified professional. 
Planning for EV Growth at Your Condo 
Although the changes are expected to help many communities navigate through their EVCS installations, “There are further clarifications the legislation has to provide,” says Suneel Gupta, director of energy and sustainability at FirstService Residential. “No two condo properties are the same, so what works for one may not work for yours. Best practices are still evolving, too.” 
In determining what will work best for your community’s immediate and long-term needs, seek an approach that will: 
  • Maximize fair access to EVCS now and in the future 
  • Minimize the overall cost of ownership and provide a fair means for distributing costs 
  • Minimize the ongoing effort needed to administer and operate the EVCS network 
“Right now, you might have 1 or 2 people asking for it, but as more people consider EVs, your corporation needs to have a plan to scale up,” says Gupta. 
So what is the best way for your board to proceed? How do you know if this is the right time to consider installing EVCS? In addition, if you do decide to install them, how should you get started?  
Here are some factors to consider as you begin exploring your corporation’s role in supporting the growing EV trend. 
  • Determine the current needs. Perhaps you have noticed a few EVs in the parking lot, or some residents have already raised the issue of installing EV chargers onsite. Unless you survey the  community, your board will not have an accurate picture of the current level of interest. 
  • Understand how much electrical capacity you have and where it is located. Determining the location of electrical panels and your condo’s electrical capacity will help you achieve effective solutions.  
  • Standardize and track the installation. Providing guidance and standardizing cable runs and safety requirements will help ensure neat and safe operation of your condo’s EVCS network over the long term. 
  • Stage out the solution. The total demand for EVCS in your community may not be immediate. In addition, the most effective solutions may not be currently available. A solution that enables you to increase the percentage of parking spots allotted to EVCS over time to 20% (or more) will help you stage out the costs and effort. 
  • Integrate EVCS into your Energy Action Plan. Any investment in EVCS should not take away from your goal to improve your building’s carbon footprint. Instead, find ways for your EVCS project to be integrated with your Energy Action Plan. 
  • Evolve with the opportunities. Trends in building codes, EVCS technology, and user behaviour will continue to evolve. “Today, maybe only 5% of your residents can be accommodated based on current EVCS technology and building limitations. With future changes, you may find EVCS being able to meet the needs of all your residents,” says Gupta. Being able to meet today’s needs while maintaining a plan to scale up for the future will greatly serve your community. 
As the popularity of EVs grows, so, too, must the ability of your condominium corporation to offer an effective EVCS solution. Whether your corporation is just starting the process or has already formulated a plan, be sure that your condominium management company has the resources and expertise to understand evolving best practices and to help guide you through the development of your solution. With the right plan in place, your corporation can help residents make the leap to EVs while ensuring that your condominium remains competitive and compliant with changing laws.  
Want to learn more? Fill out the form to download our infographic, Getting Your Condo Charged Up for the Electric Vehicle Boom.
Monday June 25, 2018