Not any time soon, I can tell you that much.
But we’re hearing more and more about condominium owners running into trouble with respect to finding a place to charge their electric cars, and the condo management companies, and board of directors’, can’t make heads or tails of this.
Despite what U.S. oil money would have us believe, electric cars will be the way of the future. So when will Ontario condominiums adapt: before the change, or after?
In the history of Toronto Realty Blog, there have been over 40,000 posted comments.
I can’t say I remember them all.
I do remember a lot of them, believe it or not, some dating back a decade.
There is one comment that really stands out to me, and actually changed my perspective on urban planning. I constantly complain about the city of Toronto, even though I love it. I’m frustrated by the unfathomable lack of foresight by city council, the mayor, and stakeholders both within the city and throughout the province, with respect to the future of a city growing out of control.
For somebody that doesn’t take public transit, I’m one of the biggest proponents of spending billions of dollars of public money to build multiple new lines; underground, above ground, or in the sky – I don’t care.
Politicians work on primarily 4-year terms, and it’s as though nobody wants to stick his or her neck out after the halfway point, when campaigning is around the corner, by putting their name on a big-ticket promise, idea, or public expenditure.
As a result, no politician on the planet looks ten years, or twenty years down the line. How can they, when they have to constantly be on the lookout for threats to their own livelihood and employment?
I guess what I’m saying, is that I wish politicians and civil servants in position of power and influence over the broader public had more foresight, and thought longer-term, and tried to predict, and forecast, future trends.
So back to that comment I speak of – the one that changed the way I think about some elements of urban planning…
In early 2016, I wrote a blog post called “The Lonely Bike Lane.”
I’ve made it no secret that I don’t like bike lanes, not only because it’s a method of transit that pales in comparison to cars, but also because we live in a harsh weather climate, and only “that guy” in your office who dresses in spandex under his suit, will bike 12-months per year.
I haven’t changed my tune since, but that’s besides the point.
I took a lot of flak for that post; more than normal. There were a lot of people who agreed with my views, but an inordinate amount of pro-bike readers who let me know where I could stow my thoughts.
One comment stood out to me, however, and it was very simple. In regards to installing bike lanes, when so few people use them compared to cars:
It’s about being progressive.
Having read that, I felt like I was living with my head in the sand.
No, I don’t want more bike lanes.
But being progressive means the same thing as what I’m always talking about – having foresight, thinking long-term, and trying to predict and forecast future trends.
Maybe, just maybe, the future of downtown Toronto is a combination of public transit, bikes, cars, shuttles, Ubers, and perhaps a technology we don’t even know about yet.
I know somebody that works for Uber, and he told me once, “In thirty years, individuals won’t own cars. Everywhere they go, there will be an Uber to take them. It will become inefficient to own your own vehicle.”
Interesting thought, and one that might benefit from further conversation and debate, perhaps just not on this forum.
But can you imagine what it was like to be watching the 1984 Superbowl and see Apple Inc. debut their first commercial for the Mac?
Very few innovation’s happen in an instant.
Most take time to be accepted, and eventually, adopted.
Cars are not my forte.
I’ve never been a “car guy.”
I don’t know anything about rods, pistons, cylinders, or horsepower.
I think cars are a waste of money, and the only reason I drive a Lexus is because industry and society both deem a “luxury car” a necessity in real estate, and because a Lexus is basically a Toyota, which I drove since I was 16.
So no, I don’t know cars. And I’m not a technological savant.
But I’m a realist. And as a realist, I see the gasoline-powered car fading away in the next 15-20 years, despite a massive push against it from U.S. money, and probably a campaign of fear and misinformation, spearheaded by American stakeholders who would kill the planet for their grandchildren in order to make another $10 Million in personal income today.
There are some highly progressive countries out there that have already flocked to the electric car as a way of life.
In Norway, a whopping 29.1% of cars on the road are electric, and that’s a 2016 statistic, so the number is probably higher.
Rounding out the Top-10 countries for electric cars as a percentage of market share: Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, France, UK, and shockingly – China.
So assuming, naively, optimistically, realistically, or otherwise, that electric cars are the way of the future, when do we begin to adopt them into our homes?
If you own an electric car, and you own a house with a built-in garage, then you’re set – just park, charge, and come back in the morning.
But what about people who own condominiums?
What options do they have, currently?
What options will they have down the road, next year, or five years from now?
And what, if anything, will the government do to encourage condominium developers to include electric car-charging stations in their new designs?
Perhaps we’re a ways away from that.
It’s 2017, and maybe this is 2037.
And if that sounds familiar, then perhaps you’re familiar with Instagram star, “f***jerry,” who brings us this meme on a weekly basis:
It makes a hybrid car look like child’s play.
Speaking of child’s play…
Alright, so if you don’t have jerry on Instagram, now I’ll say, “You’re Welcome.”
In any event, the burning question on my mind is: are we too early to this hybrid-electric party?
We know electric cars are better for the planet, and they’re probably going to replace gasoline-powered cars, but they still represent a fraction of the cars that are on the road.
So is it unreasonable to assume that condominium developers start including electric charging stations in each and every parking space in the underground parking garage? Or is this the very meaning of the term “progressive?”
Do you remember the first time you saw one of these in a an underground parking garage:
It was a such a revelation!
No longer did condo owners have to risk having their bike stolen out of the “bicycle room,” which is basically a buffet for thiefs.
That’s a single rack, and the “double rack” is even more common now, as there are tens of thousands of bike racks, just like this one, throughout Toronto condominiums.
And none of them existed a decade ago.
So is the car-charging port just the next step in the technological timeline?
We’re starting to see more and more media attention on this topic.
There’s growing sentiment that the Ontario government, if and when they update the Condominium Act, should address electric cars.
The CBC did a story last month – you can read it HERE.
The story, as is the case with many other reports out there, show that for most condominium owners who own, or want to own, an electric car, they find very quickly that there’s nowhere to charge, and the condominium board of directors aren’t looking to make charging possible.
The woman in the story above bought an electric car, found there was nowhere to charge it, and after petitioning the condo board, was told that the condo was “not ready to undertake this expense at this point of time given the fact that there is only one request” and that they “represent all owners and cannot accommodate one owner against the other owners.”
Well, to be blunt, what did she expect?
And this is part of the problem too. Condo owners can’t expect that a building’s board of directors is going to make a significant change to suite one resident. One, two, ten – how many does it take for the board to acquiesce?
If the board did agree, what would the process of retrofitting parking spaces look like? What would it cost?
In another story, an Ottawa woman is in a dispute with her condo, since they won’t let her charge her electric car in her parking space. Read that story HERE.
I suppose she’s lucky to have a parking space with an electric outlet, something that is exceptionally rare.
In fact, I was looking for an outlet in my underground parking garage so I could vacuum my car, and the only outlets were in the stairwell, or the elevator lobby; there’s not a single one in the garage itself.
So is it fair for this woman to charge her electric car on the condominium corporation’s dime?
Is there a compromise to be made?
The condo offered to build her a special charging station for $5,000, but she balked at the cost.
Once again, as is so often the case in society today, I think disappointment often results from lofty expectations.
I see an opportunity for condominiums to start building car-charging stations, ie. in the future. But if any current condo owner, living in an older building, thinks that he or she can, or should be able to charge their car, or have a special outlet built for them, they I think their expectations are out of whack.
Hybrid cars represent a new technology. I think it’s unrealistic to expect property management or the condo’s board of directors to make exceptions for the 1% of residents who want something that was never intended to be there in the first place.
Moving forward, it’s a different story.
I think the government may start to offer subsidies or tax breaks to condominium developers who build charging stations, or include outlets in the individual parking spaces.
Ontario has set a goal for electric car ownership of 5% of total market share by 2020, and 12% by 2025.
That’s all well and good, and offering incentives and rebates to buyers is one thing, but the government needs to remember that all these people live somewhere. Most in Toronto live in condos. So encouraging people to buy electric cars means nothing if there is no infrastructure at home to support them.