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Zero-emission rules mean fewer electric car choices for most Canadians: Don Pittis

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Canadians trying to buy the electric vehicle of their choice in many parts of the country are finding it almost impossible — and a provincial strategy intended to get more green cars onto dealers’ lots may actually make the problem worse.

The strategy — called a zero-emission vehicle standard, or “ZEV mandate” — has already been imposed in Quebec.

There are now widespread rumours that British Columbia could announce a similar scheme within days as part of a promise to help balance out the greenhouse gas deficit produced by the province’s planned $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat.

That sucking sound

Unless the federal government moves ahead with a promised national ZEV mandate of its own quickly — something critics think is unlikely — green car advocates fear the provincial schemes will merely suck electric vehicles out of other parts of the Canadian market in order to beef up sales in B.C. and Quebec — without increasing the total national supply.

That doesn’t mean ZEV mandates aren’t potent policy tools within the jurisdictions that impose them, says Dan Woynillowicz, policy director with Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank at Simon Fraser University.

“California has been the pioneer with a zero-emission vehicle mandate,” said Woynillowicz. “It’s been very successful, and as a result more than a dozen other states, plus Quebec here in Canada, have adopted similar policies.”

California has been a leader in the ZEV market, and you can find electric cars available there that are never even seen in Canada. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Meant to influence the market without distorting it too much, ZEV rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But in principle, ZEV standards have a single intent.

“The standard seeks to spur the supply of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and low-emission vehicles (LEVs) to afford … consumers access to greater numbers and a broader range of plug-in motor vehicles, which are the cleanest and the most technically advanced on the market,” reads a Quebec government website.

Despite a handy explanatory leaflet, ordinary car-buyers may find the complexities of the rules heavy. 

But in essence, ZEV systems are put in place as an attempt to counterbalance market forces that have made selling internal combustion engine (ICE) cars more profitable for automakers than selling electrics. ​

Please don’t buy our cars

The late Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne once notoriously asked customers not to buy the company’s battery-powered Fiat 500e because the business lost money on every one sold, although he reversed that view shortly before his death.

While electrics are cheaper for consumers over the life of the car, automakers have been able to make more money selling cars manufactured in old plants using established technology. Dealer repair shops make more from combustion-engine vehicle maintenance since, by comparison, electrics have so few moving parts.

A Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Bolt are shown at Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre, run by non-profit Plug’n Drive. A national ZEV program could attract more electric cars to Canada. (Don Pittis/CBC)

What ZEV mandates do is force carmakers to increase the percentage of ZEVs and LEVs sold year after year. And if they fail to meet those rising quotas, it forces them to pay what the rules describe as a “royalty.”

That means the most profitable thing car companies can do in the short term is to hold steady the total supply of Canadian electric cars — and merely sell more of them in ZEV jurisdictions. In other words, in Quebec and in B.C.

“Most electric vehicles that are earmarked for the Canadian market are likely be going to be going to those two provinces,” said Woynillowicz.

The federal government has considered a national plan, with a Transport Canada announcement last year going so far as to promise to develop a Canada-wide strategy to increase the number of ZEVs on Canadian roads “by 2018.”

But according to insiders, an advisory group that included carmakers and environmentalists became deadlocked and the group’s report has not been released.

Global shortage

Industry representatives make it clear they don’t like pressure from the sudden imposition of ZEV rules.

David Adams, the president of the industry group Global Automakers of Canada, called the possibility of a ZEV scheme in B.C. “disconcerting,” partly because there just aren’t enough cars to go around.

“The supply issue is a global issue that is going to be with us for two or three more years,” he said in a recent interview.

Ontario electric car expert Cara Clairman has a certain sympathy for an industry that has been surprised and overwhelmed by the demand for battery-powered vehicles.

“To be honest, it’s just so much cheaper,” said Clairman, the CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization sponsored by the electric and automotive industries that promotes electric cars. 

The Toronto resident has driven her own Chevy Bolt to Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor.

Mitsubishi brought in plenty of its best-selling Outlander PHEV SUV. But other companies may need a nudge from a ZEV program to provide enough electric cars. (Mitsubishi Canada)

Clairman said she has noticed more cars being shipped to Quebec since the province adopted of a ZEV mandate, but she also notes that places like California have electric cars she’s never seen available in Canada.

“Those jurisdictions with a ZEV mandate tend to get the supply when there’s a limited number,” she said.

People shopping for an electric outside Quebec have found some cars — including the Volkswagen e-Golf and any of the Ford electrics — hard to come by. But some car companies — including Mitsubishi, whose Outlander plug-in-hybrid is billed as the world’s best-selling electric SUV — planned ahead and currently has a plentiful supply on dealer lots.

Companies that lead the way on producing enough electrics will win in the long run, Clairman said. But for others, it’s possible the ZEV mandate is necessary to twist a few arms.

“I think, for quite awhile, most of the automakers didn’t want it because they said, ‘We’ll make sure the supply is there.’ But if the supply isn’t there, I think there becomes more and more public pressure to have a ZEV mandate.”

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis


The ‘ZEV mandate’ versus the ‘CAFE standard’

Those with a passing familiarity with the rules to make cars less polluting may be confused between the ZEV mandate and the existing CAFE standard, which stands for “corporate average fuel economy,” that U.S. President Donald Trump has moved to abolish. While the two sets of rules overlap in encouraging greater fuel efficiency, some experts, including those advising the State of California, say the ZEV does not replace the need for the CAFE. While the ZEV mandate gradually increases the percentage of zero and low-emission cars on the road, the CAFE standard requires greater efficiency in the entire fleet. “When we talk about a zero-emission mandate requiring one in three cars sold 12 years from now be electric, that means that even 12 years from now, two out of three being sold will have a gasoline engine,” said Dan Woynillowicz. If that occurred, the majority of cars sold could include the highest polluting vehicles — so long as automakers find them profitable. In theory, said Cara Clairman, after many more years, you will have enough electric cars on the road that the effect would be the same. “But I don’t think California would ever go for that,” she said.

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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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