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Hay River man raises awareness of electric vehicles in the North

A former Hay River citizen and current business owner in the community is looking to raise a bit of awareness with his trips to the North.
James Locke crossing the 60th Parallel sign, officially making his way into the Northwest Territories in his Tesla. Photo courtesy of James Locke

A former Hay River citizen and current business owner in the community is looking to raise a bit of awareness with his trips to the North.

James Locke, the proud owner of a Tesla, has been making the journey to the ‘Hub of the North’ for about six years now. Locke has travelled all the way from Victoria, B.C. and, most recently, Los Angeles, California.

In fact, Locke is such a proud owner that of his electric vehicle (EV) that, according to previous reporting by CBC in July 14 of 2016, he was one of first in the world with the iconic N.W.T. polar bear licence plate mounted on his Tesla.

“We called it the Polar Express,” said Locke in his chat with CBC.

As for his routine trips to Hay River, Locke says the drive is, in part, to raise awareness. But there is another reason as to why he makes the journey.

“Yes, in some part to help show it is possible today with current technology and no fast charging infrastructure,” he said. “However, I am really pushing for business and government to get into the idea of installing infrastructure along more northern routes in Canada.”

Locke was also asked if there was a need for a charging station en route to Hay River.

“Yes, I charged in Peace River (Alta.) overnight and in High Level for about 2.5 hours to make Hay River with a buffer. I was able to go for a nice walk in High Level, have lunch and get a little work done and continue on my way.”

Luckily for Locke, and other EV enthusiasts who want to make their way up north, there looks to be some change coming in the realm of additional EV infrastructure.

According to PlugShare, a website that shows people where charging stations across the country are popping up, there might be a new station “coming soon” in the community of Enterprise.

“This is one of several locations selected for a Level 3 DCFC charging station, part of the first phase of Government of Northwest Territories’ (GNWTs) plan to create an EV charging corridor along Highways 1 and 3,” reads the website.

“The study says an electric vehicle charging corridor could be set up on Highways 1 and 3 from Yellowknife to the Alberta border,” reads information from the section of the GNWT’s website, titled Electric Vehicle Needs Assessment and Forecast in the NWT. “Stations could be placed on the way to Fort Smith.”

Other charging station locations to the south of Hay River include the 60th Parallel Territorial Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, and the intersection of Highway 5 and 6.

James Locke’s Tesla charges after a long journey, one that would’ve been a bit easier with some additional charging infrastructure, he says. Photo courtesy of James Locke