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CIB chief executive Ehren Cory unveiled details on Wednesday of a two- to three-year strategy to finance an additional 50,000 public chargers during a speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto.Graham Paine/Metroland/Handout

The Canada Infrastructure Bank has launched a $500-million program to triple the number of electric vehicle charger stations in Canada, the latest in a string of investments that has seen the Crown corporation invest $7.6-billion in 40 projects.

There are currently 22,000 charging stations across the country. CIB chief executive Ehren Cory unveiled details on Wednesday of a two- to three-year strategy to finance an additional 50,000 public chargers during a speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto.

Mr. Cory said in an interview that the CIB will lend to private-sector companies installing charging stations, refrain from charging interest until units are operational, then receive extra interest payments if utilization exceeds preset thresholds. He said the Toronto-based bank can serve a “public good” by speeding expansion of charging networks into spaces such as shopping malls and grocery stores, which will drive demand for electric cars and in turn lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“Canadians want to transition to zero-emission vehicles,” Mr. Cory said. “We’re ready to move ahead and expand availability of charging infrastructure.” By 2030, the federal government forecasts Canada will need 200,000 chargers.

While the CIB’s minimum loan on projects is $10-million, the bank targets financings in the $100-million range. Its largest loan to date was over $1-billion.

The $500-million charging station program was first announced in April’s federal budget, along with an additional $400-million of funding for a zero-emission vehicle infrastructure project run by Natural Resources Canada. In the budget, the CIB was also given a mandate to invest in emerging green technology, such as small modular reactors and carbon capture, utilization and storage.

The CIB is also looking for opportunities to invest in hydrogen charging stations, which have the potential to power industrial vehicles such as trucks, buses and equipment on mining sites. There are currently just six hydrogen refuelling stations installed in Canada.

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The federal Liberals launched the infrastructure bank in 2017 with considerable fanfare and a $35-billion capital commitment. Potential private-sector partners were slow to embrace the concept and the CIB struggled to find projects. In the last election campaign, the Conservatives pledged they would close the bank.

The CIB brought in a new CEO in 2020, luring Mr. Cory from the top job at Infrastructure Ontario, and since he arrived, the pace of investments has quickened.

This week, the CIB also invested $38-million in a refit of Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel, owned by real estate fund manager KingSett Capital. The project will reduce the property’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.

The Royal York opened in 1929 and a group led by KingSett acquired the hotel in 2014 for $186.5-million. The fund manager is committing additional capital to the latest renovation. In a press release, KingSett chief executive Jon Love said: “We are proud to be partnering with the CIB to fund the decarbonization of this storied hotel.”

Since its founding five years ago, the CIB has committed more than $800-million toward building energy retrofits.

The CIB also committed $175-million this week to a district energy project in Richmond, B.C., in partnership with Corix Infrastructure and Lulu Island Energy Co., which is owned by the municipal government. The facility will eventually provide low-carbon heat from a sewage system to more than 170 new residential and commercial development sites.