E-bike Incentive Pilot Program

The District of Saanich's Community E-bike Incentive Pilot Program launched on October 12, 2021, and is offering an incentive on the purchase of new e-bikes by Saanich residents for personal transportation. The pilot program offers incentives to 300 participants, with 120 incentives initially reserved for income qualified applicants. Incentives are available on a first come, first served basis while funds last. 

As expected, the program has proven very popular and we are now nearing the full allocation of funds. The $1,600 and $800 incentive tiers are now closed and spaces at the $350 incentive tier are filling up fast.

We are not accepting applications or taking a waiting list for closed incentive tiers at this time. However, residents who are interested in the fully allocated incentive tiers are encouraged to subscribe to the e-bike incentive email list to receive updates about the pilot program and any potential future e-bike incentive opportunities.

We encourage everyone to pre-register for the incentive given the limited number of rebates remaining. Pre-approved participants that apply before rebates run out will have their incentives held for them for 30 days.

Due to the high volumes, we are taking longer than five business days to process your application. All applications are processed on a first come, first served basis. Everyone who applies will be contacted. Thank you for your patience.

For more information about e-bikes, review this e-bike factsheet [PDF - 4 MB] and vehicle cost comparison sheet [PDF - 407 KB]. For more information about the Saanich Community E-bike Incentive Pilot Program, see below, or call us at 250-475-5494 x 3448. 

Eligibility requirements

To qualify for the e-bike incentive, the e-bike must be:

  • The e-bike price after any discounts/sales/promotions have been applied and before incentives, accessories, shipping, taxes, or other additional costs have been added must be $1,800 or above. No rounding up - e.g. e-bikes that cost $1799.99 are not eligible.
  • purchased on/after October 12, 2021
  • new (not used)
  • for personal, not commercial use

In addition:

  • Applicants must be Saanich residents, and
  • One e-bike incentive per household address

Please view the Terms and Conditions [PDF - 89 KB] for full eligibility requirements.

Incentive amounts

  • $350 – basic incentive for all - no income proof required
  • (CLOSED - no longer available to new applicants: $800 – income qualified incentive)
  • (CLOSED - no longer available to new applicants: $1,600 – income qualified incentive)
  • We are not taking a wait list for the closed incentive tiers at this time, but please subscribe to an e-bike incentive email list to receive updates about the pilot program and any potential future e-bike incentive opportunities. 
  • Discounts for bike safety skills courses: Those who access the e-bike incentive will also be able to access discounted e-bike safety skills classes from Capital Bikes.

Number of Incentives Available

$200,000 of funding has been allocated for e-bike incentives as part of the pilot program.  The program offers incentives to 300 participants with 120 incentives initially reserved for income qualified applicants (this may be subject to change dependent upon program implementation). Incentives are available on a first come, first served basis. 

As expected, the program has proven very popular and we are now nearing the full allocation of funds.  The $1,600 and $800 incentive tiers are now closed and spaces in the $350 incentive tier are filling up fast.  We encourage everyone to pre-register for the incentive given the limited number of rebates remaining. Pre-approved participants that apply before rebates run out will have their incentives held for them for 30 days.

Eligible e-bikes

  1. The e-bike must meet the definition of motor assisted cycle in the BC Motor Vehicle Act, and the criteria set out in the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulation
  2. Cargo e-bikes are eligible.
  3. E-bike conversion kits (i.e. just purchasing the motor, battery, and controls) are not eligible.
  4. Used e-bikes are not eligible.
  5. More conditions apply - see terms and conditions for details [PDF - 89 KB].

Two ways to access incentive:

Incentive after purchase

  1. Apply for Pre-approval [PDF - 230 KB] before buying an e-bike
  2. Receive confirmation from Saanich of funds available. 
  3. Purchase a qualifying e-bike from the e-bike vendor of your choice (can be local, online, or elsewhere) and submit your rebate application form [PDF - 237 KB] and receipt. Terms and conditions apply. [PDF - 89 KB]

OR

Point of Sale Incentive through Vendor

  1. Submit a pre-approval form [PDF - 230 KB] . (Pre-approval is required for a point of sale incentive.)
  2. Receive confirmation from Saanich that you are pre-approved. Saanich also notifies the e-bike vendor of your choice (must be a participating vendor in the list below) that you are approved for an incentive. 
  3. Complete a point of sale incentive form [PDF - 169 KB] with your e-bike vendor when you buy your e-bike, then get the incentive amount taken off at the till. (Terms and conditions apply. [PDF - 89 KB])

Local E-bike Vendors

The following e-bike vendors in the Capital Region have agreed to offer point of sale incentives. If you are an e-bike vendor in the Capital Region who would like to be included in this list, please contact sustainability@saanich.ca. This list is not an endorsement of any particular vendor, and is provided for the convenience of applicants to the program.

Income qualification

The $350 basic incentive is for everyone, regardless of income, without proof of income required. For larger incentives, income verification is required, as shown in the income table below. Many forms of income verification are accepted, as described on the pre-approval form, [PDF - 230 KB] including using an Endorsment Form [PDF - 126 KB]

 

*Family members include a married or common law couple and children in the home. It does not include unrelated roommates, landlord and tenant, etc. Refer to “census family” definition by Statistics Canada for more details. Single people can report single income. In cases with multiple adult family members at the household with incomes, show the income only for the top 2 earners.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What happens when incentives run out?

The pilot program intentionally limits incentives to 300 participants. Pre-approved participants that apply before rebates run out will have their incentives held for them for 30 days. Following the 30 day period any unclaimed incentives will be available to others on a first come, first served basis.

One of the goals of the Community E-bike Incentive Pilot Program is to better understand the effects of incentive programs like this one. The next phase of the pilot program is focused on analyzing and sharing the results of the pilot, which would be used to inform potential future climate programs.

We are not accepting applications or taking a waiting list for closed incentive tiers at this time. However, residents who are interested in the fully allocated incentive tiers are encouraged to subscribe to the e-bike incentive email list to receive updates about the pilot program and any potential future e-bike incentive opportunities.

Why is the District providing incentives for e-bikes?
The District is providing these incentives to help residents adopt low-carbon, renewable energy, and active transportation options. This program supports the implementation of the Saanich Climate Plan, the Saanich Electric Mobility Strategy, and the Saanich Active Transportation Plan. Personal transportation using gasoline powered vehicles is the biggest single source of climate pollution in Saanich. E-bikes use a combination of human power and low-carbon electricity and are a climate-friendly transportation choice. They also help residents use active transportation for longer trips, trips up steeper hills, and trips transporting young children or heavier loads such as groceries. A CRD survey of residents found that upfront costs were the biggest barrier to e-bike adoption.

Why are we incentivizing e-bikes and not regular bicycles?

Active transportation, including walking, regular cycling, public transit, and other active modes are a key priority for the District of Saanich in both the Climate Plan and the Active Transportation Plan, and the District continues to invest in these options.

E-bikes are an emerging technology in our region that differ from regular human-powered bicycles in many ways, and therefore are of interest to study through this pilot program. They make it easier to use a bike for long trips, for routes with steep hills, for wearing street instead of exercise clothes, and for hauling young children or cargo. Less physical fitness is also required, meaning e-bikes make cycling available to more people of diverse ages and abilities. These benefits, that are specific to e-bikes and not bicycles, mean that e-bikes are likely to replace more car trips than cycling alone and so provide greater support for the shift to active transportation and meeting our climate targets.

Bicycle ownership is not a barrier to increasing the uptake of active transportation in our community - two-thirds of all households in the region already have bicycles, with an average of 2.43 bicycles per household. Bicycles can also be extremely low cost, particularly with a large second-hand market available. In comparison, local surveys show that the primary barrier to e-bike adoption in the region is upfront cost, with models starting around $1,600 and many e-bikes in the $3,000-$4,000 range. Further, there is an extremely limited second-hand e-bike market and these second-hand bikes remain relatively high cost. This means that e-bikes can be unaffordable, particularly for lower income individuals.

Given the above, an e-bike incentive program that addressed equity was identified as a key action to address our GHG emissions in both the Saanich Climate Plan and Electric Mobility Strategy, approved by Council in 2020.

Why are there different incentives by income level?
The District is committed to equity in climate action. To ensure that the incentive program is accessible to a diversity of Saanich residents, including those of varying incomes, this tiered incentives approach was chosen.

Can I buy a bike online or does it have to be from the list of vendors above?
We encourage you to support your local e-bike store, but e-bikes bought online can qualify if they meet all the program criteria, including complying with the BC Motor Vehicle Act, costing at least $1800, and having a minimum of 1 year warranty on parts.

What should I know about buying online?
It is important when purchasing from an online vendor to find out if they have arrangements with a local company to complete assembly, maintenance, and repairs. Unlike non-electric bicycles that can be serviced at most any bike store, e-bikes should be serviced at a bike store that sells that particular brand of e-bike.
If an online vendor doesn’t have arrangements for local servicing, it is prudent to inquire about shipping costs and turnaround time for online maintenance and repairs before deciding to buy online. Online e-bikes are typically shipped to you unassembled, rather than ready-to-ride, and you will also need to choose appropriate locks, helmets, panniers, and other accessories, which they may or may not also provide.

Can I also access the BC SCRAP-IT program’s e-bike incentive?
Yes, if you qualify for both programs, you can access both incentives.

Can I also access the BC SUVI cargo e-bike incentive?
No. The BC SUVI incentive for cargo e-bikes is for commercial/business/institutional fleet use, whereas the Saanich e-bike incentive is for personal transportation only.

Can a used e-bike qualify for the incentive?
No, a used e-bike is not eligible for the incentive.

How do you define a household? What if I’m living with roommates? Can only one of us get a incentive?
We define a household as all those living at the same civic address. Only one incentive is available per civic address. However, for income verification, we are looking for the income of the “census family” at that address as defined by Statistics Canada. If you’re a single person, that’s your income only, even if you have roommates or are a landlord or tenant at the same address. If you’re in a couple (married or common law) that lives at the same address, include both your incomes. if there are more than two related income earners in the household, include only the top two earners. If you have questions, please contact sustainability@saanich.ca.

What is the pre-approval process for?

Pre-approvals are required to access a vendor point of sale incentive. They are not required for residents who purchase the e-bike and apply for the rebate themselves after purchase, although they may choose to obtain pre-approval if they wish. 

What is the UBC study associated with this program?
Understanding the effects of incentive programs like this one is vital to determining whether they continue and expand in the future. Dr. Alex Bigazzi of the University of British Columbia is conducting an independent study on the effects of bicycle purchases on travel behaviour over time. Participation in the study is optional, and will not affect whether you receive a rebate through this program. No personal information will be shared between UBC and Saanich. To learn more and consider participating, visit www.tinyurl.com/UBCbikesurvey or contact the study team at react.lab@ubc.ca or 604-822-4426. Translation into other languages is available over the phone.

What is the Community Social Planning Council's (CPSC) TACES Program?

The CSPC is working with the District of Saanich to improve equity in the design of the District’s Community E-Bike Incentive Pilot Program, as a case study in the Transportation, Access, Climate, and Economic Security (TACES) Program. Transportation is the biggest source of climate pollution in Saanich, primarily from passenger vehicles, At the same time, transportation is the second largest household cost after shelter, greatly affecting affordability in our region. The TACES project will bring together people with lived experience and organizations with expertise in climate, transportation, and equity to develop guidance on how to ensure climate action in transportation addresses equity effectively. Funding for TACES provided by the Vancouver FoundationRead more. 

Why are incentives being offered to 300 participants?
Incentives are a common approach to climate action. Saanich evaluates and invests in various climate actions based on available funding and their impact and other co-benefits. The Community E-bike Incentive Program is a pilot project and is currently offering 300 rebates to ensure a sufficient sample size for academically rigorous evaluation of the pilot program’s impacts. A robust evaluation study of this initial phase of the program will provide key insights that will lead to a clearer understanding of program impacts as well as the design of future climate programs

What happens with e-bike batteries at end of life? 

E-bike batteries and other e-mobility batteries can be recycled. Saanich Municipal Hall is a drop-off location for e-bike batteries. Read more. 

Frequently Asked Questions by Vendors

How can I be listed as a vendor in the program?
The vendor list is only for point of sale incentives. Any business in the Capital Region that sells and services e-bikes and meets the program terms and conditions can be included on the list, and can offer point of sale incentives, or the resident can pay the full amount and apply for the rebate themselves.

How can I promote the program? 

Download and print this 8.5x11 incentive program poster [PDF - 178 KB], direct interested residents to saanich.ca/ebike, or request other promotional material by contacting sustainability@saanich.ca. To promote the UBC study, contact the UBC study team at react.lab@ubc.ca or 604-822-4426 to request materials. 

Do I need to verify income or residency for the incentive?
No. Saanich verifies the resident’s eligibility for the program and pre-approves them for a specific incentive to redeem within a certain amount of time, providing them with a confirmation letter, and notifying you of the pre-approval.

How soon will I get reimbursed?
When you offer the point of sale incentive, complete the Point of Sale Incentive form with the buyer, and then submit it to the District of Saanich. Once received, the District will review within 10 business days, and the reimbursement cheque will delivered within 4 weeks of the form being approved. If you have not received a reimbursement cheque after 5 weeks, please feel free to contact sustainability@saanich.ca.