‘What I would say to anyone on the fence is drive one, and once you do, you probably will never own another gas vehicle,’ says electric vehicle owner
Sustainable Orillia kicked off Sustainable Orillia Month with a demonstration of electric vehicles and various seminars at Orillia Square mall Saturday.
Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke spoke at the official opening Saturday, saying the event is part of a series of events meant to inspire change in the Sunshine City.
“We are emitting carbon at an absolutely unsustainable rate, and therefore it is necessary that we reduce our environmental footprint,” Clarke said.
“We are seeing extreme weather systems in the news on an almost daily basis in the world and sometimes it’s very local” the mayor noted. “We see record rains, flooding, heat waves which bring fires that are burning at a speed with stronger winds than experienced in the past, and in some cases these fires become out of control and hard to suppress.”
Promoting environmental activities is something that Clarke hopes to do all year long, not just during September.
“Before the pandemic hit, I remember standing In front of City Hall and talking to about 300 people who were doing an environmental rally, and I’m very glad to see that climate change has not fallen off the radar and Sustainable Orillia has helped to maintain that,” he said.
“The volunteers at Sustainable Orillia, including the youth council, are extremely dedicated, extremely tireless, and they make these kinds of important events possible,” the mayor said.
Clarke says city staff and Sustainable Orillia volunteers are working on a climate change action policy for the city and are looking for feedback from the community.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, the city will be hosting a virtual public engagement session with guest speaker and Orillia native Bob McDonald from CBC’s Quirks and Quarks.
“We want people to tell us what their environmental vision is for Orillia’s climate action plan, that will actually guide council’s decisions going forward for years to come,” he said.
Clarke says the well-participated Sustainable Orillia events give him hope for a bright Orillia future.
“The more people that are engaged and taking action, the more effective this is going to be,” said Clarke.
“I have been presently surprised with how these events have been attended and I would encourage residents who haven’t done so yet to come out and continue to learn things.”
Counc. David Campbell is one Orillia resident who was convinced to convert to driving an electric vehicle because of a previous Sustainable Orillia event held at the Orillia Square.
Campbell commutes each day in his Tesla Model S, which he says is a whole different driving experience than a gas-powered car.
“It’s incredibly quiet, acceleration is totally smooth because there is no transmission, so there is no shifting of gears, it’s like having the sensation of driving a really fast electric golf cart with instant torque,” he said.
Campbell says those on the fence about electric vehicles because of cost should do in-depth research.
“You should look at the total cost of ownership and what it costs for maintenance compared to a gas vehicle. Obviously, an electric vehicle has no engine, so there are no oil changes. Because of regenerative braking, the brakes last a very long time,” he said.
When Campbell attended a Sustainable Orillia car show a couple of years back, he was sold after test-driving an electric vehicle.
“What I would say to anyone on the fence is drive one, and once you do, you probably will never own another gas vehicle,” he said.
“Our gasoline vehicle before was about $75 to fill up, and the electric vehicle is about $6 to completely charge; there is no comparison there.”
Retired Severn Township residents Carole and Bob Walli attended Saturday’s event to inquire about electric vehicles.
“I’m looking at getting a new car next year, so, I thought we would come and see what’s available,” Carole said.
“We have a minivan now so we need something that gives us lots of room, and we would like it to have the range to get us as far as Ottawa,” Bob added.
After attending the electric vehicle event, the Wallis say they are sold on electric vehicles – as long as it doesn’t break the bank.
“One of these cars says it costs $300 a year to run 20,000 kilometres. You can’t get gas for $300 a year,” Bob added.
While there were many electric vehicles on display Saturday, there were also a series of seminars inside the mall. If you missed it, the cars and seminars will also be available today at Orillia Square from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is also a sustainable art exhibit inside the mall featuring local artists on sustainable themes. It can be viewed through Sept. 18.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, there will be a Repair Cafe from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the mall where community volunteers will be on hand to repair broken household items.
For more information about the group and its events this month, visit their website.