The Saskatchewan government announced in its 2021-2022 budget earlier this year plans to implement a new tax aimed directly at owners of electric vehicles (EVs).
The $150 annual tax was a first in all of Canada and presented as a way to “improve tax fairness”. The proceeds would go towards road maintenance and replacement costs which the government said would otherwise be funded through the province’s fuel tax.
“These vehicles contribute to wear and tear on provincial roadways, but because they do not consume traditional fuels they are not contributing to highway maintenance through the provincial Fuel Tax,” the government said.
The announcement was met with resounding criticism and negative reactions. Not only were local EV owners upset, but even the Canadian government urged Saskatchewan to rethink the plan, which they said sent the wrong signal at a time when the country is trying to increase EV adoption.
Unfortunately the response was met with deaf ears, and October 1 the new tax was put in place.
Now an EV advocacy group has launched an awareness campaign to petition for a tax on sidewalk usage in the province. The tongue-in-cheek campaign was put together to highlight the absurdity of the EV tax at a time when there are just 600 EVs on local roads.
“Every day, thousands of people walk all over our sidewalks, push heavy strollers and shopping carts, even use motorized vehicles and bicycles,” says Lou Acera, President of SSS. “But are they contributing to the extra upkeep? This makes sure they do.”
The group, known as the Saskatchewanians for Sidewalk Sustenance (SSS), isn’t asking the government to scrap the tax. Instead they want the tax delayed, until such time as there are enough EVs on the road to warrant it.
At current levels, the tax will bring in an estimated $90,000 per year. The costs to administer the program will likely wipe out most, if not all of that money, leaving little to actually go towards its intended purpose.
Their solution is to delay the tax until 1.3% of all vehicles in Saskatchewan are electric, or about 10,500 EVs. This is the same level California used before implementing a similar tax there.
The group is committed enough that they have agreed to pay back any EV owner in Saskatchewan the $150 fee. Or they are asking people to donate $150 to the Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES), which has been advocating and working on environmental issues in the province for over 50 years.
You can check out their website at SidewalkTax.ca, where they have a pre-populated message you can send to a local MLA, the Minister of Environment, and Saskatchewan Premiere Scott Moe.