The transportation issue: Electric vehicle roadtrip problems, ride-hailing apps, and Zdeno Chara's long bus rides in the '90s
Also: Budget talk catch-up and read to the end for a Reddit thread reminiscing about the city's food
Hello! I wrote most of this from the cafe/rest stop in McLeod Lake and the rest in Dawson Creek. This is my first electric vehicle roadtrip north of Prince George and the first in sub-zero weather, having previously traveled east to Banff over the autumn.
And I’ll be honest: While the Banff trip made me think there was virtually no downside to having pulled the trigger on an EV, this one did. It’s not so much the range, which is reduced from more than 400 km on a single charge to just over 300 because of the winter cold, it’s the lack of infrastructure in this direction. If you want a fast charge station north of Prince George — one that can get you from close to empty to close to full in under an hour — there are a total of two options: a BC Hydro station at McLeod Lake, where I stopped, and a Flo station (Flo being another charging network) in Fort St. John. There is supposedly a fast-charge station on the highway between Chetwynd and Dawson Creek but it didn’t work for me and, looking at reviews from other travelers, that’s often the case. As it was, in order to make it here I had to spend about forty minutes walking in circles in -12 C weather in order to get the extra 10 km of juice needed to make it the rest of the way to Dawson… and trying to get on to Fort St. John would be out of the question without another extended stop here.
This isn’t a problem in any other direction — you can see on the map below that there are fast charge stations pretty frequently headed south — one in Hixon, one in Quesnel, one at a rest stop just south of Quesnel… and it picks up from there. West there’s one in pretty much every community along the way. East is a little more sparse, but they are still more frequent than if you head north where aside from the aforementioned McLeod Lake, there’s no fast charge stations until Fort St. John — well outside the range of most, if not all, EVs. None in Mackenzie or the Mackenzie Junction/visitor centre along the highway, none at Powder King and, most surprising to me — none in Chetwynd or Hudson’s Hope or even Dawson Creek. What stations do exist take significantly longer to charge a vehicle and — unlike the majority of the stations in other directions — are not provided by the province via B.C. Hydro.
And this is ironic because much of B.C. Hydro’s energy comes from up here — 38 per cent, according to this website. So while the province says Site C is being built in the Peace to provide the infrastructure for the province’s transition to electric vehicles, one of the worst parts of the province to rely on an electric vehicle is the Peace because the province, so far, isn’t building the infrastructure needed to make roadtrips around here viable. And when you consider how often folks from Dawson Creek have to go to Fort St. John or people in Tumbler Ridge have to go to Dawson Creek I cannot imagine switching over to an EV given that there is all of one fast-charge station in the entire region.
Anyways, I hope this changes. The nice part of an EV is that when there is a charging station, it encourages you to get out and walk around the community for 30-40 minutes, and places like Chetwynd and Hudson’s Hope and Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek are great places to get out and explore. As more people switch to EVs, it’s doing these places a disservice to create barriers to them being tourist destinations — especially since this region is responsible for the power fueling roadtrips in other parts of the province.
(Unfortunately, they did destroy the garage door)
Zdeno Chara reminisces about PG
I’m not a big hockey guy but I thoroughly enjoyed the most recent episode of popular hockey podcast Spittin’ Chiclets where they were joined by the tallest person to ever play in the NHL and Stanley Cup champion Zdeno Chara. He paints a picture of Prince George in the 90s which I vaguely remember and has a pretty interesting story of how he came to be here in between his youth in the now-former Czechoslovakia and future NHL glory. And… he knows about those long drives any elite athlete in the city faces when they want to compete:
I took my first U-Ride
In other transportation news, I took my first U-Ride over the weekend. If you haven’t heard of it, U-Ride is a small city ride-hailing service popping up in communities that haven’t attracted the likes of Uber or Lyft.
Since it launched in Prince George late last year I’ve had the app on my phone so I could occassionally see how many drivers are on the road. It seems to be at least 3 at any given time, and both times I called for one on a busy Friday night, a driver arrive inside of ten minutes. The experience was pretty much identical to Uber and Lyft and the drivers both seemed happy with the work, from what they told me. I am curious if the company is subsidizing things right now and how long that will last but that will have to be for another day. I should add I’ve never had an issue getting a taxi so was curious how much demand there would actually be for something like this but I was told by the drivers it had been pretty stead. So there you are!
It’s budget time, baby: Here’s a refresher
Because I'm on the road, I'm not sure how closely I'll be able to follow this but: It's budget time in Prince George, with discussions happening today and Wednesday.
Fortunately, I've written about much of this already. The two big issues are:
Prince George is facing a 7.22 percent of $166/home tax increase in part because of past decision-making to pay for burgeoning operating costs using one-time COVID-19 relief funds.
On top of that, the city’s been told it should consider adding $1 million a year for the next five years to the city’s police budget, further stretching taxpayers.
You can read the links above and get a summary of some of the other issues — including staffing pay increases and a request for a new fire training facility in the writeups at the Prince George Citizen and Prince George Post.
Talks begin at 3:30 p.m. Get the agenda here and watch live online here.
Two weeks after Canfor announced job losses a a Prince George pulp mill, workers are still waiting to find out how many people — and who exactly — will be impacted, the union says.
The mayor of Houston says the community can look back at recent experience to learn how to deal with the pending long-term Canfor mill closure.
In part two of it's megabust series, the Citizen speaks to UNBC professor Greg Halseth about how the north can transition once construction for megaprojects like Site C and the Coastal GasLink pipeline is complete.
The cold snap settling in is gonna be cold but not likely record-breaking, according to Environment Canada.
The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George is worried the province isn’t maintaining public access to local lakes.
A Prince George woman is receiving praise after donating a kidney to a stranger in Winnipeg.
B.C. is returning 200 square kilometers of land to the Lake Babine First Nation.
A curling team from Prince George will represent B.C. at the Western Canada Bling Curling Championships this March.
The pre-trial is underway for the man accused of starting a fire at a downtown motel, killing three. On Thursday, Justice Margot Fleming found that Justin Kyle Aster's charter rights were violated after he faced long waits to get a lawyer and was detained for an unreasonably long period of time, Mark Nielsen of the Citizen reports.
I’ve seen Alex Mackenzie pop up on my TikTok feed a few times and he has a pretty big fanbase there. Now the mill-worker-turned-comedian is coming home to record his first stand-up special:
The regional district who, as reported last week are taking a neighborly approach to the homeless camp set up on their lawn downtown, has joined those calling for a standalone mental health and addictions treatment facility in the city.
Meanwhile former councillor Albert Koehler calls for the replacement of tent cities with a temporary heated building for people to live in, with washrooms and a kitchen, treated as transitional housing (not sure how this would differ from existing shelters or the facility being built on 1st Ave).
In memorium: Homeless advocate and outreach volunteer Florence Schultz who even on her deathbed was helping others:A post shared by Uniting Northern Drug Users (@unduprincegeorge)
The Citizen continues to dig into local crime stats.
The CNC library is being rebranded as a "learning commons", replacing about 50,000 physical books and documents with electronic content and space for students to gather and collaborate on research.
The Rural Health Network executive says rural surgical centres would reduce barriers for northern residents.
Fundraiser set up for senior who lost home and pets in fire.
I’m feeling pretty bad for the folks trying to make the ice work at the Prince George Oval.
The Coldsnap Music Festival continues. One cool thing about it is musicians are gifted hand-made knitwear made by local volunteers which tends to be a conversation piece for them.
Another successful AleFest is in the books:A post shared by Kiwanis AleFest | Northern BC Craft Beer Festival (@kiwanisalefest)
And finally, here’s a Reddit post from a former resident reminiscing about all the food they used to enjoy when they lived in Prince George.
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