Province allows electric cars with any number of occupants in HOV lanes

Electric vehicles displaying this decal are now allowed in B.C. high occupancy vehicle lanes regardless of the number of passengers

Plus, Squamish Music Festival pulls the plug on 2016 and B.C. mining industry needs better government support 

Plugging electric cars
It’s full speed ahead for electric vehicles in B.C. At the 2016 Globe Conference on Sustainability and Innovation on Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark announced a raft of incentives for purchasers of electric vehicles:

• Effective immediately, HOV lane eligibility for electric vehicles with any number of passengers and an official decal
• An additional $6.89 million for the Clean Energy Vehicle Program to fund purchase rebates
• A $77,000 price cap on CEVs eligible for rebates in order to support more purchasers of lower-priced CEVs
• $890,000 for investments in programs to expand public and residential charging infrastructure and encourage fleet purchases of CEVs

B.C. has the highest per capita adoption of electric vehicles in Canada and the largest public charging infrastructure network in Canada. Energy Minister Bill Bennett has also asked the federal government for infrastructure funds to extend the electric vehicle charging network.

The CEV incentives are part of $11.9 million from the province’s Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) fund for three programs promoting clean-energy vehicles, clean air and clean water. The ICE fund is funded through a 0.4 per cent levy on the final sale of specified energy products such as natural gas, fuel oil and grid-delivered propane.

The day the music festival died
The 2016 Squamish Music Festival has been cancelled. Organizers have not offered a reason, simply posting a statement that “This decision was not made lightly and we sincerely apologize to all the people this decision affects: the fans, artists, industry partners, corporate partners, suppliers and all of our supporters within the community of Squamish.” The festival began in 2010 with attendance reaching 125,000 in 2015.

The District of Squamish is disappointed by the cancellation yet grateful for what the festival brought to the community. “It’s difficult to quantify the total impact of the Festival but we know there has been a massive injection of revenue, increased awareness and heightened profile for Squamish,” said Mayor Patricia Heintzman in a statement. “We have played host to the world, and it has been a great honour.”

Mining data
The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC) has commented on the 2015 Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies, saying that while the survey acknowledges B.C.’s strengths that encourage mineral exploration investment, it also defines important areas that require more action by government.

The March 1 report ranks B.C. 18th out of 109 jurisdictions worldwide and fifth in Canada as an attractive place to invest in mineral exploration and development but 41st out of 109 jurisdictions and tenth in Canada in the survey’s policy perception index.

The province ranks highly in terms of mineral potential, geological database and availability of labour but poorly in regard to uncertainty concerning environmental regulations, protected areas and disputed land claims. “We need our provincial government to maintain security of mineral tenure, to clarify land use regulations and protect access to mineral lands to support the exploration, discovery and development of the public’s mineral resources,” said AME BC chair Diane Nicolson, in a statement.

The Fraser Institute conducted an electronic survey September 15 to November 27, 2015, receiving responses from 449 managers and executives involved in mineral exploration, development and other related activities.