Administration officials defend their $2,000 electric vehicle subsidy

Laval spent $1.092 million on program that ended two years ago

Two years after the City of Laval ended a subsidy that provided residents with up to $2,000 to help pay for the purchase of an electrically-powered motor vehicle, opposition forces at city hall are still deriding the Demers administration for underwriting a program the opposition claims was wasteful and that tended to be used by persons who are better off financially.

The criticism was renewed during the May 4 city council webcast, when the administration tabled and passed a resolution to create a regular reserve fund of $3 million to pay for efforts aimed at reducing Laval’s greenhouse gas emission imprint on its territory.

Investing in the future

The city maintains that subsidies like the one provided to residents for the purchase of electric vehicles ultimately pay off because they help reduce the presence of greenhouse gases, which will be subject to increasing taxation or penalties by higher levels of government in the not-too-distant future.

Still, Parti Laval leader Michel Trottier remains sceptical of how the city is going about dealing with the greenhouse gas issue.

“Since the creation of the subsidy for electric vehicles, the opposition has been denouncing the absence of objective criteria to pay for greenhouse gas reduction programs,” said Trottier. Still, he said new criteria established by the city will help avoid questionable decisions.

546 residents got subsidy

According to information provided by Trottier, the city spent $1.092 million providing the electric vehicle subsidies. He said that in all, 546 people (0.12 per cent of Laval’s population) received the $2,000 subsidy, including two elected members of the Mouvement lavallois (15 per cent of the ML caucus, Trottier said).

City of Laval deputy mayor Stéphane Boyer defended the city’s $2,000 subsidy for electric vehicle purchases by residents.

He maintained that the electric vehicle subsidy program used up most of the funds the City of Laval had put aside for the overall purpose of dealing with the greenhouse gas issue. He also claimed that no city except Laval had set up a program to provide subsidies for electric cars.

Vimont city councillor Michel Poissant, who leads the newly-formed Laval Citoyens party, said he had nothing against electric cars, although he could see the ways some opportunists might improperly take advantage of the situation.

Doubts over subsidy

“I don’t think it’s a municipality’s business to be involved with this type of thing,” he said. “As well, somebody could be living in Montreal, change their address for his brother-in-law’s in Laval, come to collect the $2,000, then change the address. We have no way of controlling this.”

The city has created a new $3 million reserve fund to pay for efforts aimed at reducing Laval’s greenhouse gas emissions

Deputy mayor Stéphane Boyer said he found it “very unfortunate” to hear councillors with the Parti Laval, “who speak of themselves as being more green than green, opposing subsidies for the electrification of vehicles.”

Boyer defends subsidy

Boyer said that even if not all residents of Laval were able to receive the subsidy to buy an electric car, “all people in Laval benefit from being able to have better air quality and less greenhouse gas to reduce our environmental impacts.”

He said the federal government filled the vacuum left when Laval’s subsidy ended, since Ottawa created a subsidy of its own that was even more generous, and which he said allowed the City of Laval to redirect sums into other projects.

“But listen, we’re one of the very few cities in Canada to have this kind of program and we should be proud of it, rather than denigrating it. What we’ve been doing here today is restructuring our approach. I see only good coming from tonight’s resolution.”

ML councillors got subsidy

City councillor for Renaud Aram Elagoz acknowledged that he was one of the two ML councillors identified by Trottier as having received the city’s electric vehicle subsidy. (The other was council president Christiane Yoakim).

“Yes, I bought an electric vehicle,” he said. “I am a citizen of Laval and, like everybody, I am entitled to this subsidy. It was not voted in so that we could buy electric vehicles. I find these comments extremely inappropriate.”

Note: Due to a typographical error, an earlier version of this article misstated the total amount spent by the City of Laval on electric vehicle grants as $1.92 million. The correct sum is, in fact, $1.092 million. We apologize for the error.