Condos Are Playing Catch-Up When It Comes To EV Charging

Residents are having a hard time finding convenient places to plug in

Written By — As the founder of Strata.ca, Robert is one of Ontario’s leading experts on the GTA condo market. He is also the Broker of Record at Strata.

With Canadian gas prices hitting record highs in recent months, I’m doing my best to keep my smugness in check. As well as saving me thousands of dollars in fuel costs and drastically reducing my carbon footprint, my 2020 all-electric Tesla 3 has access to what is still a surprisingly rare condo amenity: an in-house charging station.

Last year, more than 83,000 electric vehicles (EVs) hit Canadian roads, which Statistics Canada reports was an all-time high. In the fourth quarter of 2021, plug-in cars and SUVs topped 6 percent of all new vehicle registrations for the first time, with year-over-year sales growing by almost 60 percent.

Given that 2021 gas prices were relatively affordable compared to 2022, I’m not surprised that 46 percent of Canadians surveyed in June for Ernst & Young’s EY Mobility Consumer Index said they plan to buy an EV as their next vehicle. That’s up from 11 percent in 2021. If these drivers follow through on their intentions, hundreds of thousands of EVs will hit Canadian roads in the not-too-distant future. Based on federal government mandates, those numbers will be in the millions by 2035, when all new vehicles must run on batteries.

However, what I AM surprised about is how long it’s taken condo developers and boards to react to the surge in demand. Indeed, according to a recent survey supported by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), the one-third of Canadians who live in apartments and condos are having the hardest time finding convenient places to charge their EVs.

Charging away from home

My Strata colleague and fellow Tesla owner Cliff Lui can relate. While living in GTA condos, Cliff would usually park overnight in nearby public parking garages with EV charging stations. “I’d park there more than I would in my own parking spot,” Cliff says, adding that I am the only condo-dweller he knows who has access to in-house charging.

Strata Realtor Cyrus Ghazvini is currently in the same boat that Cliff once was. But he reports that the property managers of his building are “exploring options to have EV hookups in our parking structure. We still don't know whether each parking owner will have their own charger, or if there will be a section of spots dedicated to temporary charging. At least it's finally being taken seriously. I personally negotiated an EV rough-in for a client who bought a unit at Pier 27 years ago, so I know it can be done. Better late than never, I guess.”

Until a couple years ago, many condo corporations were doing little or nothing to make on-site chargers available to residents. Now, they’re playing catch up. Residents of the 10-year-old Thompson Residences at King and Bathurst, for instance, were recently emailed details of the corporation’s ongoing upgrades to the building’s electrical infrastructure to support up to 68 EV charging stations on two levels of its underground garage. Totalling $277,549.75, the upgrades do not include the installation of individual chargers, which must be covered by the respective owners. (From what I understand, having a charger installed in a condo parking garage costs between $3,000 and $5,000.) Owners must also repay their proportionate share of the upgrades, which comes out to $4,081.61 per charger. However, many other condos are finding more affordable options — particularly newer and pre-construction condos.

From frill to standard amenity

While this arrangement is typical of installations in existing condo communities’ — it was codified by the Condominium Authority of Ontario in 2018 — pre-construction projects are still charging a premium for private EV hookups. “I don't think EV charging in condos is a deal-breaker yet,” Cliff says. “Right now, it is more of a frill, like a basketball court or bowling lane.”

But Cliff, Cyrus and I are all on the same page in believing that it will soon be a standard amenity on par with gyms or outdoor terraces. Some of our clients are already asking how much it would cost to install EV chargers, and how they affect the resale value of pre-construction condo units. As it stands, added resale value is in line with the lofty cost of installation. But as more residents pressure condo boards to install chargers, and as more new builds include them, they will likely become more affordable.

On that note, the ever-increasing affordability of EVs themselves has not been lost on any of us. Given my 2020 purchase, maybe I shouldn’t feel that smug after all!

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