The City of Nelson says its e-bike financing program has had a successful impact in encouraging residents to switch from gas-powered vehicles to electric bikes.
The city’s e-bike lending fund launched in 2020 and has helped finance e-bikes to over 200 homeowners over the last three years.
The program gives homeowners the opportunity to finance low-interest loans of up to $8,000 to purchase e-bikes. The loans are then repayable through a homeowner’s Nelson Hydro bill over a period of up to five years.
Cecilia Jaques, senior climate and energy strategist with the City of Nelson says the program ties into the city’s strategic climate action plan.
“The City of Nelson’s climate plan has several aspirational goals and a whole range of strategies for achieving those aspirations within it and because transportation is the largest source of emissions in Nelson, we have focused on that within our climate plan,” said Jaques.
“The e-bike financing program is one of our core pillars of the ways in which we’re trying to influence the community to participate in sustainable behaviors.”
Jaques says the popularity of the program has grown since its launch three years ago, which prompted her team to approach city council and ask them to increase the loan fund from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
“The fact that we recently went to council to ask them to increase the amount of funding available to offer that financing is a really good sign of the program’s success. Beyond that, we hear from residents all the time how the program really did help them get into their e-bike sooner.”
Jaques says her team has also partnered with a research group from the University of British Columbia to investigate the impact e-bikes have on travel behavior.
“So what we’re seeing is that purchasing an e-bike does actually help people get out of their cars and onto their bikes, which is really good. So that’s currently ongoing and we’ll have our first report in about a year.”
She also said her team is continuing to work towards different strategies to continue to promote other forms of sustainable transportation within the city.
“Our council also just brought a motion to the UBCM conference asking BC Transit to double their investment in the regional transportation system here,” she said. “So we’re looking at it not just from cycling, but also transit and walkability and all the different aspects of how people move around the city.”
Last week the BC government announced plans to roll out of a provincial e-bike incentive that will offer income-qualifying individuals $1,400 to go towards the purchase of e-bike. The incentive was modelled after the program currently in place in Nelson.
Jaques says Nelson city councillors and her team worked alongside the province to advocate and provide research highlighting its success in Nelson.
“Nelson was the first community in BC to offer e-bike financing. Since that program launched in 2020, we’ve collected a bunch of information. So we met with the province over a year and a half ago now and chatted with them about what we’ve learned through our program, share the lessons learned and advocate for a program that is highly equitable and available across the province.”
Jaques also mentioned that community members can learn more about the e-bike financing program at the Nelson farmers markets throughout the summer.
“We have partnered with the Wildsight Youth Climate Corps team to administer a summer ambassador program. Anybody who’s in Nelson can check out the farmers markets throughout the summer and have a one-to-one conversation about the City of Nelson’s climate programs, including the e-bike financing program, upcoming organic diversion program and energy retrofits program with those climate ambassadors at the markets throughout the summertime.”