By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
A council-supported low carbon transit fleet strategy could means electric and hybrid buses are on the way to Durham.
At its latest meeting, regional councillor approved a motion brought forth by Whitby councillors Chris Leahy and Steve Yamada.
The move comes a month after regional council declared climate change an emergency in Durham Region.
“We’re buying vehicles and we’re purchasing the buses, so we are taking a leadership role on the transit file… but we want to find ways that we can use our purchasing power and ways to lower our carbon footprint,” said Leahy.
The motion included three recommendations, the first of which is to direct staff to develop a comprehensive low carbon fleet strategy as part of the 2021 budget.
The strategy will review potential opportunities to utilize low carbon vehicles, and will include the introduction of electric vehicles in the region’s fleet where necessary.
It will also develop a plan which will guide investments in new and replacement vehicles and equipment from 2021 to 2030. This will also include any upgrades to regional facilities, as well as any retrofitting low carbon fuelling options for the region’s fleet which may be required.
Secondly, the motion requests Durham’s commissioner of finance Nancy Taylor be given direction to provide external funding support for the strategy.
While debating the motion with Whitby town council, Leahy explained they added an additional item, requesting the province reinstate an electric vehicle rebate program to encourage residents to buy them.
“It’s an opportunity for us to ask the province to reinstate [the rebate], right now there’s just the federal [electric vehicle] rebate of $7,500,” said Leahy.
Yamada explained he was quick to support Leahy’s motion, adding anything the region can do to combat climate change on the local level is important.
“I’m a full supporter of electric vehicles, I’d like to see what we can do working with the Ontario government to try and reinstate the rebate, and work towards electrifying our fleet so we can show from a leadership perspective that we’re doing more. These climate emergencies aren’t just words, they’re actions that we’re actually taking on the local level,” said Yamada.