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Gas-powered truck purchase generates high number of responses to Salmon Arm council

City receives about 20 letters, all but one wanting politicians to choose electric vehicles
Salmon Arm has a few options for charging electric vehicles around town. (Observer file photo)

A decision from Salmon Arm council to purchase four replacement gas-powered trucks for the city has generated a larger-than-normal number of letters from residents.

The decision, based on a recommendation from city staff that was included in the March 13 council agenda, was to go with Braby Motors, which submitted the lowest bid of the three bids received by the city from its ‘request for quotation.’ The other two bids came from Vancouver and Port Coquitlam.

The quotation from Braby Motors was for two half-ton 2023 Dodge Ram 1500s and two three-quarter ton 2023 Dodge Ram 2500s.

The staff report referred to four city trucks aged from 19 to 22 years old.

They have all served well and are scheduled for their second replacement. These units are used mainly for movement of staff to and from project sites with the ability to haul or tow small to medium items… Due to the age of the existing units, they were often in the shop for repair and not available. New replacements should elevate the availability and service levels to ensure staff and material are easily moved from site to site.”

The majority of council voted in favour of the staff recommendation. Coun. Sylvia Lindgren voted against, citing environmental concerns about having the internal combustion engines for another 20 years. Told there is a scarcity of electric trucks the necessary size to do the work the city requires, she suggested purchasing used gas-powered trucks so they could be replaced sooner once the supply of electric vehicles grows.

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Mayor Alan Harrison wrote a reply in response the first nine letters the city received which were included in council’s April 11 agenda. Those letters criticized the decision to purchase trucks equipped with internal combustion engines, pointing to factors such as the city’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019, the dire warning to ‘cut emissions quickly, sharply’ from the international panel on climate change, and an electric-truck purchase by Armstrong.

Harrison replied that council appreciated the feedback.

“We are building our fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles. Electric vehicles can be charged overnight at City Hall, so it makes sense to have new cars that staff use as people transporters, be electric. Over time I can see this fleet being 100% electric vehicles.

“Our work trucks operate out of the City Works yard. We would need to install a dedicated transformer and charging stations there to charge electric vehicles. That cost is in the $300,000 range, more than it cost to purchase all 4 trucks. This is something we need to plan for.

“While some of you mentioned the Ford F-150 Lightning recently purchased by Armstrong at a cost of $120 000, this truck is used to transport people, it is not a work truck. Two of the trucks the City purchased, are ¾ ton vehicles, not readily available here yet. These trucks, as well as the two half-tons, are work trucks used both to transport crews, and to haul material and tow equipment.”

Coun. David Gonella said he supports Harrison’s letter. He added that he believes in climate change as most residents do, but he sees the type of work truck the city needs is not yet readily available in electric form. He said new gas vehicles are better, in terms of pollution, than the old ones the city owns.

He encouraged the community to pressure manufacturers so they will see there is demand for three-quarter ton electric work vehicles.

Coun. Tim Lavery said he would like staff to get back to council in six months regarding available options. He said he thinks the community might not be aware of all the steps the city has taken regarding climate change, but he also pointed to the need for a robust climate action plan.

About another 10 letters on the purchase were included in the city’s April 24 agenda, one of them in favour of the purchase, the rest against.

Read more: Councillor against buying 4 new gas-powered trucks for Salmon Arm fleet
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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