Saanich councillors push to legalize e-scooters within district

Saanich councillors push to legalize e-scooters within district

Electric kick scooters are illegal to ride in British Columbia, but two District of Saanich councillors are hoping to change that within their municipality.

According to B.C’s Motor Vehicle Act, electric kick scooters are not allowed on public roads or sidewalks, unless you live in one of eight communities included in the province’s Electric Kick Scooter Pilot Project.

Under the pilot, communities can create their own bylaws on how e-scooters can be used within the area — the only community on the Island involved in the project is Nanaimo.

Saanich councillors Zac de Vries and Colin Plant now want Saanich to be the second Island community in the pilot program. During a Sept. 20 council meeting, the two put forward a motion directing staff to consider joining a pilot program that would reverse those rules within the municipality.

“These e-scooters in use are widespread and totally illegal,” said De Vries. ‘I think that if we can move to be a part of this pilot, bring these into legalization, we will then be in a much better position.”

The illegal use of electric scooters is a surprise to some residents and even Coun. Plant. He says he purchased his e-scooter during the summer before learning that they were illegal.

“When someone said ‘why don’t you just make them legal in Saanich?’ I went, ‘what do you mean?” said Plant.

De Vries says it would also help Saanich get closer to reaching its climate action goals.

“I think that embracing these diverse electric modes of transportation like e-scooters is a way to do that, because it’s a way to replace car trips,” said De Vries.

The pilot launched in April 2021 and lasts until April 2024. Both councilors say within the communities involved in the program, it’s been a success.

“When I was visiting family in Kelowna and Vernon, I saw them everywhere. People were using them, it was great to see,” said Plant.

Legalizing electric scooters does open the doors for businesses to offer rentals. In 2017, U-Bicycle offered a bike sharing rental program in Victoria, but many issues including bikes being abandoned ultimately led to the company stopping services.

Plant says the priority for joining this pilot program is to serve Saanich residents.

“If a business were to come forward, we’d have to consider it,” said Plant. “but I am not bringing this forward for the purposes of expanding business opportunity.”

A report from staff is expected to take a few weeks.

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Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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