CASTLEGAR — A Gibsons couple who crossed Canada in an electric car stopped in Castlegar on their way back home.
Barb Hetherington, Buddy Boyd and their dog Piper began their journey across the country on July 1, dipping their Chevy Bolt’s wheels in the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, B.C.
“We had the mayor of Victoria seeing us off, because she’s quite an advocate of electric transportation and lowering emissions,” said Hetherington.
And then they drove across the country to Quidi Vidie, N.L. and dipped their wheels in the Atlantic on July 22.
As they went, the couple promoted zero waste and zero emissions.
Both Hetherington and Boyd are board of directors for Zero Waste Canada, and “Bolt Across Canada,” as they titled their journey, is a Zero Waste Canada project. The project has been sponsored by a number of businesses, whose logos now adorn the exterior of the couple’s Chevy Bolt.
To keep the road trip zero waste, Hetherington and Boyd brought along an electric composter.
“On our journey across Canada, what we’ve been doing is showing that we could have a very low impact road trip. So we’ve been composting, we haven’t been leaving any waste in any community that we visited,” said Hetherington. “We’ve done the smart shopping where you’re shopping at farmers’ markets to reduce packaging and if we have had to buy something in a package, that we know that package is recyclable.”
In cases where a container could not be recycled in a certain community, they brought the package with them until they reached a community where it could be recycled.
While Hetherington and Boyd were able to cross the country in an electric car without leaving waste behind, they did find that there isn’t yet enough infrastructure for electric cars.
“Certainly there needs to be more,” said Hetherington. “There needs to be more of the green infrastructure to make it easier for travelling.”
The couple used apps to locate charging stations across the country, but in some communities, like Castlegar, there was only one public charging station and in others there were none at all.
Hetherington said the range the couple is getting on the Chevy Bolt’s battery is an average of about 400 kilometers per charge.
Charging the battery takes about eight hours using a level two charger or an hour or less using a level three charger. Hetherington says most of the charging infrastructure across Canada is level two charging, including the charger outside the Castlegar Public Library.
The Kawalsky Chevrolet Buick GMC, where Hetherington and Boyd stopped to rebalance their tires and recharge the Bolt in Castlegar has a level two charger, but is in the process of installing a level three charger as well.
Hetherington also said that many hotels in Canada now provide level two chargers.
Crossing the country the first time — a distance of 8,200 km — only cost the couple $80.
“Most of the level two charging is free, so the only charging that is a cost is the level threes,” explains Hetherington.
Some energy is also gained while driving, as the Bolt has something called Regen on Demand, which allows the driver to slow the vehicle without using the break and convert energy into electricity. It’s especially useful on hills.
“It’s fun to drive,” says Boyd. “It’s a different experience.”
On a trip down the Coquihalla Highway Boyd estimates he was able to generate enough extra energy for 70 additional kilometers.