B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver and Premier John Horgan announce plan to phase out sales of carbon-fuel vehicles by 2040, October 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. Green leader battles sound-bite storm over going zero-emission

Andrew Weaver says gasoline gouging is moving people to electric

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is digging his way out of a social media blizzard after a Vancouver radio station segment on how to cope with record gasoline prices.

He said he can’t keep up with the Twitter tags and responses he’s had since he discussed the costs of driving a conventional vehicle and the growing number of people who are moving on to transit or zero-emission options.

Did he really suggest that people take out a second mortgage to buy an electric car?

“That’s creative interpretation of what I actually said,” Weaver said in an interview at his B.C. legislature office Thursday.

A former university lecturer not given to sound-bite answers, Weaver said he laid out the options for people who are looking at enormous commuting costs, and describing electric vehicle options that are improving every year.

He does advocate that people consider borrowing to buy an electric vehicle, and installing a charger at home. Weaver took advantage of the ZAPBC program, which provides free home chargers for the cost of installation. When he’s heading up-Island from his Oak Bay home, he uses one of the expanding network of fast-charge stations that allows him to recharge in Nanaimo in 15 minutes, paying 35 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“It costs me about two bucks to go from here to Qualicum Beach,” he said.

Weaver is taking his own advice, trading in his last gasoline vehicle for a new electric SUV, which has a range of 415 km on a charge and is eligible for a provincial rebate of $5,000. These days a used electric car can be had for $15,000, and the low maintenance and battery life have been clearly demonstrated, he said.

Weaver’s other message to people looking at gasoline prices of more than $1.70 a litre is to consider the annual ritual of summer increases.

VIDEO: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles begin to arrive in B.C.

READ MORE: Carbon tax increase funds electric vehicle subsidies

“I would suggest that the excuse of the ‘summer driving season’ leading to refinery scheduled maintenance is beginning to wear thin on me and others, as it’s beginning to look like a self-fulfilling prophesy that prices go up in the summer because of the fact that we expect them to.”

Big oil companies are increasingly shipping heavy crude down the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Washington refineries they own, then selling the fuel back to B.C. at inflated prices, a refinery markup twice as big as the rest of Canada, he said.

“To me it’s madness that we’re trying to prop up a sunset industry,” Weaver said. “And I think it’s madness that we’re not seeing this gouging as anything other than an opportunity to say, OK, enough is enough. I don’t want to participate in that.

“People can walk more. They can car pool.”


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