What To See in Saskatchewan

Here’s a great video of some of the great things to see while looking around Saskatchewan. I’ve lived here nearly all my life, and I still haven’t seen it all yet. I love the Dark Sky Preserve at Grasslands National Park, and if you like taking photos at night, you have to try it.

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EV Charging in Regina

This blog post is a 7 month update to my earlier summary of the status of EV charging in Regina.

Most EV owners charge at home, where they park for the night.

Better EV drivers charge where their shared car is parked, at a car sharing parking spot. None exist yet in Saskatchewan, but Saskatoon Car Share Co-op is actively working on providing that.

Ottawa has been talking about improving EV infrastructure for Canadians, but so far Saskatchewan isn’t part of that conversation with the feds. While private businesses have done a great deal with help from Sun Country Highways to build up Level 2 charging in many Canadian communities, the more rapid Level 3 chargers are out of reach for the average Canadian outside of BC, Quebec, or southern Ontario. The City of Regina has been unhelpful also, and the Province of Saskatchewan directed SGI to end a low-emissions vehicle rebate years ago. Former Minister McMillian now is the President of the Canadian Ass. of Petrol’ Producers. No conflict there, eh?

That’s right, Shell is beating the Canadian government on installing Level 3 chargers, albeit in the UK. Will Shell in Canada beat the EV-lovin’ Environment and Climate Change Minister on the mission to electrify Canada’s highway network?

P.S. Our Leaf cannot make use of Level 3 charging; we got it without one installed. Why bother, when there are 0 available in Saskatchewan? It charges on Level 1 at the house, or Level 2 at Peavey Mart or Winmar if going out of town. Thanks Sun Country Highway!

A Tale About Buying an Electric Car

There’s no place to buy a used Electric Vehicle in Regina, in 2017. This is a problem. It’s one I don’t have the ability to solve, but it affects me because I’m interested in helping people know how to get an electric car if they live in southern Saskatchewan.

There was a site my friend had directed me to, and it had less selection and higher prices than I was looking for. I started looking earlier this year, and the prices on Auto Trader, although better, were still a few too many thousands of dollars out of my price range. I put the project on hold until the new Nissan Leaf was set to be announced in early September. After patiently dealing with a sluggish salesperson for a couple days in Port Moody over phone-tag, I found a 2014 Leaf SV in Vancouver for $16000, with the features I was looking for, and put a $500 down payment on it easily by credit card. Then, the real difficulties began…

I bank with several different banks. The one with the money for the car is not a Big 5, but it’s owned by the Big 5. They don’t have a SWIFT code, which is apparently required to send money by wire transfer. It would have been at least 2 days to move the money to another bank, and $50 to wire it, or $10 to buy a bank draft and courier it to me. I chose the latter, and Purolator didn’t successfully leave me a notice of the delivery. I phoned the bank 3 days later asking what was going on, and they said it was already in Regina. The following morning I went to pick it up, and courier it to the auto dealer in Vancouver. That evening, I got word that my Dad had passed away.

The following week, I got a paper to sign and send back, which I did electronically, and was soon told the car would ship and be in Regina at Regina Honda by “mid-week”. When Wednesday rolled around, and I didn’t get a phone call, I got in touch with the sales person (who was the 2nd I dealt with, as the first one left employment at the Vancouver dealer in the meantime). They noted the car hadn’t been picked up by the shipping company yet! They got a new promise of 7-10 days from the following day when it would be picked up, he assured me. I suggested a partial refund of $200 may be in order. He and his manager were not eager to make such a deal.

Day 10 was about to roll around, so I called to get some facts, and they said it was set to be delivered on Monday. I was hoping for the Friday, but close enough. On Monday, no phone call arrived. I called the Regina Dealer, to check it hadn’t been dropped off, and it hadn’t. The Vancouver sales person emailed the shipping company and asked them to contact me with what happened. They suggested that they hoped it would be in Regina a week later!

I was not pleased. I suggested that was unacceptable. My salesperson agreed, and also demanded better of the shipping company Car-Fre’.

3 and a half weeks waiting for it to arrive was too long. The dealer/shipper missed 2 self-imposed delivery dates. The Port Moody dealer finally admitted they were taking too long, and promised a $500 refund of the $1000 to ship it, which I happily accepted.

It arrived October 19, 2017, at Regina Honda on Broad St. The truck operator unloaded it, it was conveniently placed at the back of the semi trailer. I went to Galon Insurance down the street, they collected the PST, the conditional 28 day registration, gave me a plate, and I bought an AutoPak from SMI, it was about $40 less than SGI’s. I didn’t have a wrench with me to get the new plate on, so a salesperson at Regina Honda helped me out. As we walked to the vehicle, they asked why we didn’t buy directly from them, “You don’t sell it, unfortunately.”

I got back to work, and parking was temporarily free in the lot I picked, BONUS! It should be free-ish for EVs anyway, at this point in Regina’s history, at least until they become much more common.

I’d hoped to be able to offer a template to others so they could copy my experience, but it’s better if they don’t. While the Port Moody Honda dealer eventually made things better with the partial shipping refund, they weren’t really keen on shipping out of province, and only do it a few times a year.

The shipping company dropped the ball completely. They only came through at the end because an auto-dealer lit a fire under their butts. Their latest review on Yellowpages was from another unhappy customer. If your expectation is that it’ll arrive sometime long after promised, they’re good enough. If you want it the same month, try another method.

If you’ve enough money for a new car, a more immediate method of getting an EV to Regina would be to buy one at Evergreen Nissan in Prince Albert. It’s 400km away though, so you’ll still need to ship it, or take a full day or two to drive it down to Regina. Maybe Regina Nissan will catch on, or be dragged into the future not too long from me writing this.

UPDATE: The PST and shipping refunds arrived at the end of October by mail.

“Flabbergasting”

“Flabbergasting”
If you need to hear every Conservative talking point repeated without a thought in the world, try the Regina Chamber CEO’s take on CTV: “Nation building” “tidewater” “energy independence” “What’s in the best interest of the country” “a lot of money that comes from the United States that fuels these environmental groups” “Stand up when we need to stand up”

Why would getting our oil to tidewater, so it can be shipped overseas, play into us being energy independent?
His hand-waving, saying we’ll now not have energy independence, is totally false. We can build renewable energy systems, and storage systems that will provide Canadians with true independence from Big Oil which takes subsidies to keep it economically viable.

More Vague First World Problems

I made a large purchase last week Tuesday, and have had problems paying for it. Oh, I’ve got the money, I mean I’ve had some difficulty sending it to the seller. I put a deposit down instantly over the phone by credit card, that was easy enough, but sending the bulk of the funds due has required over a week. This is in part due to the seller’s sluggishness in contacting me with payment details, and partly due to how modern banking is set up.

My smaller bank, which is actually a part of a Big 5 big Canadian bank, doesn’t have a SWIFT code to send wire transfers, so I had to select a bank draft option for $10. It was that, or wait 2-3 business days to move the money electronically to another bank, to pay them $50 to wire it. Then they couriered me the draft (couldn’t send it directly to the seller, oh no). Purolator didn’t leave a delivery notice, or a bozo stole it, or the wind blew it away, so I waited an extra day before complaining to the bank about the slow delivery. They gave me the tracking number and said it was in the city. I picked it up, and turned it around back into the system for almost $25 to be at the seller by next day.

Why not Interac email? They’ve a $3K/day limit, and the seller only wanted wired money, or a bank draft (certified cheque). Why not credit card? Something like a 2.5% merchant fee, so the seller would take a few hundred dollars hit. Why not Bitcoin? Because they’ve not set up to take it, and convert it into dollars at their end (or hold it, more sensibly). It could be a lot easier than multiple phone calls to banks, and an early morning trip to the industrial side of town where Regina doesn’t even have sidewalks or bike lanes to get there.

Solar Eclipse from Regina, SK

The eclipse today was visible from Regina, but not the totality available to Americans in many states.

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017
My new Canon SX540 HS did a good job with a pair of solar eclipse filter glasses taped over the lens. The sunspot chain was very sharp and visible at 200X digital zoom, 80ISO.

I made a projector that worked well:

Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

ADDED: Here’s 2012’s annular eclipse in Regina.

Plastic Is Out of Hand

Plastic almost always ends up as waste within a year or two of its production. We’re making too much of it also, at an increasing pace.

“Of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of virgin plastics ever made, half was made just in the last 13 years,” Geyer said. “Between 2004 and 2015 we made as much plastic as we made between 1950 and 2004.”

It’s sick. The problem is accelerating. We need to ban plastic bags in grocery stores in Regina, as a local starting point to fight the problem.