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Environment

Extra supports could come for electric bikes, snowmobiles in NWT


The NWT government says it will explore whether offering rebates for electric bikes and electric snowmobiles is worthwhile.

Last week, infrastructure minister Diane Archie came under pressure from two MLAs to include electric bikes in the same rebate program that already exists for electric vehicles.

At the moment, people and groups who purchase new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in hydro-powered NWT communities are eligible for $5,000 rebates. So far, according to Archie, there are 34 fully electric vehicles registered in the territory.

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The rebate program does not yet extend to other electric modes of transportation.

“We are off to a good start,” Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson said of that program in the legislature last week. “However, we can advance this by taking a page from our friends in the Yukon who have implemented rebates for electric bikes and electric snowmobiles.”

Since 2020, Yukon has offered rebates of $2,500 for electric snowmobiles and 25 percent of an electric bike’s cost, up to $750 (or up to $1,500 for cargo e-bikes).

“There are now electric snowmobiles available in Canada that have a range, on a single charge, of approximately 100 kilometres,” said Simpson. “In addition to being fully electric and not requiring fuel, the machines are quiet, have comparable performance with machines we are familiar with, and require minimal maintenance.”

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Acknowledging the NWT currently has barely any charging stations, Simpson said there are plans to install more and the territory “should not be left behind.”

Archie dismissed the Yukon comparison, saying the NWT had “significantly different energy and road systems,” but said the potential of electric snowmobiles was being examined.

“Discussions have been occurring in the GNWT … to see if we can get electric snowmobiles to be able to test here in the Northwest Territories. Once we better understand the technology, if it’s a good fit and if there’s potential public demand, we can be able to make a decision to support electric bikes and snowmobiles,” the minister said.

Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson later pressed Archie for a stronger commitment on e-bikes.

“I know the minister’s going to review this and do some calculations of greenhouse gas emissions, but I’m worried,” said Johnson.

“If we say it’s 50 bikes and you get $500 back, that’s $25,000 a year. I’m worried we’re going to spend more asking some engineer or consultant to review whether this is a good idea.”

“Since there’s so much interest,” said Archie, responding, “I will commit to looking at the rebate for electric bikes as part of the three-year energy action plan and the business planning process.”

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