District of Houston File photo

District commits to buying an electric pick up

And plans to install vehicle tracking equipment

It’s not in the budget this year and may not be next year either but by 2025 the District of Houston’s vehicle fleet will include at least one all-electric pick up.

And that’s in return for the province providing up to $10,000 this year to the District so it can install vehicle tracking equipment in its fleet.

The commitment from the District to purchase an EV pickup was made by council at its June 1 meeting in considering the option.

The District already has the purchase of tracking telematic software in its budget for this year and is now looking for a project provider.

“The installation of telematics tracking software in the public works fleet to include usage data on the fleet is a project that was approved during the 2021 budget planning process,” a memo to council explained.

“This [provincial] program could possibly cover up to $10,000 of the estimated installation cost of $34,300.”

The prospect of a provincial subsidy to purchase an EV pick up comes from the province’s Go Electric Fleets program, one of a suite of programs and incentives from the province designed to encourage people, businesses and public sector bodies to buy electric vehicles.

Aside from helping with the purchase of an EV, the Go Electric Fleets program will also help purchasers with the cost of installing vehicle charging points.

Meanwhile, companies interested in bidding on the installation of real-time tracking equipment and software have until June 30 to submit their bids.

Bidding information posted by the District indicates the equipment will be installed on 40 vehicles and pieces of equipment over a contract life of three years.

Companies marketing real time vehicle tracking systems say provide information on everything such as speed, idling time and time at locations such that managers can then assess performances and reduce costs where possible and necessary.

On the District list for installation are sand-spreads, snow plows and the street sweeper.

The District wants the equipment installed by September 1, 2021 and forecasts a three-year contract term ending Aug. 31, 2021.

The decision by council to purchase the tracking equipment did spark discussion among council members during budget deliberations this spring with some wondering about the value of the equipment compared to the suggested benefits.

Councillor Troy Reitsma also raised the matter of public distribution of the tracking information, a matter District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck said could be subject first to a privacy assessment.

The overall discussion prompted mayor Shane Brienen to ask for a resolution to affirm the project plan.

Moved by councillor Tim Anderson and seconded by councillor Troy Reitsma, the tracking equipment plan was approved by a vote of six to one with councillors Tom Euverman, Tom Stringfellow, Jonathan van Barneveld and Brienen joining Anderson and Reitsma voting in favour. Councillor Lisa Makuk was opposed.