Public Charging Stations in Ottawa. Finally!

When we first got our Leaf a year ago, charging infrastructure in Ottawa was non-existing. The only known “public” Level 2 charging stations in the area were the ones at a public parking lot at Aberdeen Road, but they were all reserved for Adobe employees. One year later, Ottawa is still far behind other municipalities like Montreal and Vancouver, but the situation has improved quite a bit over the summer, culminating on this week’s announcement of a pilot project by Hydro Ottawa and the installation of a public charging station at City Hall.

Here’s the list of all Level 2 public charging stations currently available in Ottawa, in chronological order, plus a little bit of history behind each station. Exact locations can be found in PlugShare.

Place D’Orléans

Place D’Orléans was the first to install a public charging station in Ottawa back in July. The station was a collaboration between the shopping mall and a nearby GM dealer (Myers Orléans), a perfect partnership since the mall can attract EV owners while the dealer can advertise and sell more Chevy Volts. Customers can charge at no cost for up to 2 hours and the parking spot is well marked for Electric Vehicles, with the asphalt painted in green. There are also adjacent spots that can be reached by the charging cord if you get ICE’d (blocked by an Internal Combustion Engine car parked at the EV-only spot).

Algonquin College

It wasn’t until September that we discovered a second public charging station: a ChargePoint station at the Algonquin College at Woodroffe Avenue. It wasn’t clear how long that station had been there, and to this date ChargePoint is yet to show it on its map (I already opened a support ticket with their help desk), but the  station is operational and I already charged there once using my ChargePoint access card (at no cost).

Science and Tech Museum

The Science and Tech Museum is where the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) meets every month. The museum has always had electrical plugs available for electric cars visiting the museum but they were all 120 V outlets and there were no reserved parking spaces for EVs near these outlets. This changed in October 19th when Sun Country Highway officially unveiled a 90 Amps Level 2 charging station at the museum parking lot. Sun Country Highway donated the station, EVCO provided seed money for the installation, and the museum provided the parking infrastructure and electricity while complementing the installation costs.

Les Galeries de Hull

Les Galleries de Hull officially announced four EV charging stations for clients in October 25th. The stations have been active for testing since October 14th. They are managed by VER network/AddEnergie and require a “ReseauVER” access card, though if you call the number on the station they will activate the charger for you. The status of each station can be seen online at the VER network website, if you have an account. Charging is currently at no cost but this may change in the future.

Mountain Coop Equipment

Four charging stations became available for MEC customers on October 26th after a long period of renovations at the store and at the parking lot. The stations had been covered with black plastic bags for a long time, and we were all curious to know which kind of stations they were, and how many ports they had per stall. We now know these are ChargePoint stations, two J1772 ports per stall, and require a  ChargePoint access card but are free once activated.

City Hall

Hydro Ottawa and the City of Ottawa have started a six-month pilot project to better understand demand and service costs. A Level 2 charging station is available for EV owners at no cost with charging is limited to 2 hours. The Eaton station was unveiled in an event at City Hall with a fair amount of media coverage.

Carrefour du Versant

As I was writing this, someone in PlugShare reported that the first Electric Circuit charging stations in Gatineau are now installed! This was quite a surprise since the estimate Electric Circuit gave me last week was end of November. I’m not sure if they are really online or just put in place. I need to go and check. In any case, it’s a really good addition for us. It’s one of the farthest Level charging station reachable from my house so it will significantly extend my range on trips to the province of Quebec.

In the Horizon…

  • The City of Ottawa has announced plans to upgrade at least two of the existing Level 1 charging outlets at the Goulbourn Recreational Complex to Level 2 stations. Similar charging stations are expected to be installed at the Barrhaven South Recreation Complex currently under construction.
  • The Electric Circuit is making inroads into Ontario, in a partnership with Plug’n Drive. Hydro Ottawa is also involved in the talks since the first roll-out will be in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. We should be hearing more about this early next year.
  • The Electric Circuit is also expecting to install the first DC Quick Chargers next year. I’m hoping they choose highway 40 between Ottawa and Montreal as the first location for deployment, since that will make practical to travel between the two cities.
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16 comments on “Public Charging Stations in Ottawa. Finally!

    • Thanks, Allen. I checked your blog too. Good work logging the experience. And congrats on your brand new Leaf! I see you’re in Ottawa! That’s great because we have an owners group that meet every couple of months at a Starbucks. We haven’t met for quite a while so we should try to get together again before the holidays. Would you be interested?

    • Driving a shared LEAF via Vrtucar must be an interesting change of pace. I drive a LEAF full time, formerly drove a smart car. I thought I was driving the smart in a very fuel efficient manner until I started driving the LEAF. Having the regenerative braking on the LEAF does help encourage keeping an eye on following distance, amber lights and such. Do you feel your driving habits change when you drive the LEAF?

  1. I’m definitely the guy in the slow lane on highways now…I notice bikes more and I think they notice me too. I try to keep off the acceleration, but sometimes I purposely give it juice because I’m not used to having such nice pickup.

  2. Hi,

    I’m from CA’s Bay Area, so we already have EVs coming out of our ears! I really like your blog! I have a Volt and after reading some of your posts I have a few questions.

    Is it possible to get the FleetCarma for the Volt?

    Did your insurance rate really go down? Mine went up…

    My Aunt lives in Arlington, WA and I might visit her this summer. Can US EVs charge on the Canadian grid?

    -Brennan

    • Hey Brennan. Thanks for your comments!

      > Is it possible to get the FleetCarma for the Volt?

      Yes, they do support the Volt and other EVs.

      > Did your insurance rate really go down? Mine went up…

      Yes, it did but I guess it will depend on the car you had before. The Leaf replaced our 11-yo minivan. I added the Leaf to the same insurance policy while I was trying to sell it. The premium basically doubled for the two cars together. After I sold the minivan, and called the insurer to review all our policies, the Leaf ended being 20% lower than our second car, a 2006 Corolla, with the same drivers, coverage, etc.

      > My Aunt lives in Arlington, WA and I might visit her this summer. Can US EVs charge on the Canadian grid?

      Yes, free charging stations will work for sure but some may require an access card from the charging company. I know ChargePoint works across the board, not sure what other companies they have in BC. You can check on PlugShare or ask the BC guys at the Facebook group.

      Cheers,

      Ricardo

  3. While some public charging stations may be accessible to all vehicles, others may limit access to subscribers, with vehicles registered to a proprietary billing system. An access control system would be used to identify and approve vehicles and record and share data about when and where vehicles the vehicles charge. It’s not yet known how it will shake out, but privacy concerns may dissuade some customers from accessing public charging stations that identify where a vehicle was charged.

    • The same customers will also be dissuaded from using credit cards that track which stores they made purchases, or cell phones that know about their location, or even PetroPoint cards that track which gas stations they visited, if they also have a gas car… The issue is not unique to charging stations and can be addressed in many different ways.

  4. Not on your list: there are two charging stations in the Minto suite parking (entrance on Laurier between Lyon and Kent). These are chargepoint stations. Of course you have to pay for parking to have access. I see a Volt parked there often.

    • Yes, they were installed last year. Once you pay for parking, charging is free. They had a sign saying they were going to add a charging fee after New Year but if you look at a comment in PlugShare, it’s still free. Maybe it’s attracting new business for them, which would more than justify the small electricity cost.

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