Peterborough is set to become Ontario’s first test city for a new type of mini electric car.
The single-seater car is developed by Magna founder Frank Stronach; in June Stronach came to Peterborough with prototypes and said he wanted his proving ground to be here.
On Friday, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith met with city officials to outline next steps to get there.
Smith’s plan is urgent, he said: London and Oshawa have also expressed interest in becoming test cities for Sarit.
But Smith says he’s aiming for Peterborough to get there first, joking that he just doesn’t want rival city Oshawa to rush.
“As a proud Peterburian, I can’t let Oshawa beat us in anything,” he said.
The car is called Sarit – a name derived from a safe, affordable, reliable and innovative form of transportation – and Stronach said in June that he plans to sell them for around $5,000 each in Canada.
The cars are single-seater electric vehicles, equipped with a small cargo box, which do not travel more than 32 km/h. They run on a car battery that can be charged at a standard electrical outlet.
Stronach said in June it plans to bring them together this year, likely at its own factory in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
It’s still unclear exactly how a pilot program would work, Smith said on Friday: Perhaps some cars could be made available for use on the Trent University campus, for example, or placed at the marina in Peterborough. so that people arriving by boat can use the small cars to go around the city.
Cars can also be sold in Peterborough for uses such as delivery vehicles, Smith said, or as an affordable second car for families.
The idea is to test the cars here for several years — maybe up to a decade, Smith said.
In June, Peterborough City Council voted to send a letter to the Department for Transport signaling its interest in becoming a test community.
Dakota Brasier, Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney’s press secretary, confirmed in an email to The Examiner this week that the department is aware of Peterborough’s interest and is “currently exploring” the possibility of testing Sarit cars here.
In the meantime, the ministry is developing a set of rules — including where microcars can drive in Ontario — that would apply in a test community, and Smith said Friday he expects a final version of those rules to be released by one week.
Those rules should prescribe where cars can be driven, Smith said — in bike lanes or vehicular lanes, for example.
Smith and con. Don Vassiliadis, the city’s transportation chairman, met on Friday morning at the lower level of the Peterborough Public Library on Aylmer Street – with city staff joining virtually – to discuss next steps. .
Once the department releases its set of rules for Sarit cars, Smith said, the city could potentially draft and pass a new bylaw that would allow Sarit use in Peterborough.
It was unclear on Friday exactly when that bylaw might be drafted: City executive director Sandra Clancy told the meeting that it all hinged on how quickly the department’s rules are released.
“That will be key to how quickly we can move forward, I think,” she said.
Smith hopes it will be soon, as he would like the Sarit cars to be here in time for the Ontario 55+ Summer Games in Peterborough August 9-11.
The Games are provincial championships for adults over the age of 55 who compete in sports such as swimming, tennis, pickleball and golf.
The event will use numerous city and county sports facilities as well as Fleming College and Trent University. On Friday, Smith said he envisioned cars driving participants and coaches from venue to venue.