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Hybrid electric truck maker sees a future in Terrace

But first it needs a building rezoned
A Merritt-based company which wants to make hybrid electric heavy haul trucks as its eye on purchasing the large building on the corner of Hwy16 and Kalum Lake Drive/Hwy113. (File photo)

A renewed attempt is being made to rezone the large vacant blue-coloured building on the corner of Hwy 16 and Hwy113/Kalum Lake Drive. This time so the property can be sold, if rezoned, to a Merritt-based company that makes hybrid electric heavy haul trucks.

Edison Motors officials say they can’t find a suitable location in and around Merritt and have now been drawn to Terrace in the hope of buying the structure and renovating it.

But that property would have to be rezoned from its current highway commercial status to one allowing industrial activity.

As it is, property owner Karrer Holdings of Smithers was denied a similar request last April when city officials said the requested rezoning conflicted with the city’s official community plan.

“The property has a history of industrial uses but has been designated from commercial land use in the official community plan since 2002 and zoned C3 commercial since 2014,” planner Ken Newman summarized in a lengthy memo to council in April 2023.

He said staffers feel there are ample vacant light industrial-zoned lands available elsewhere.

Edison Motors on March 20 announced that a prototype electric hybrid heavy-haul truck named ‘Topsy’ became certified as road legal, a first step toward scaling up production.

Edison’s chief marketing officer Theron Groff said the company has been warmly welcomed within the Terrace business community.

That welcome extended to BC United Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, he added.

“He even invited us to Victoria where we were introduced at a legislative session,” Groff said.

A successful purchase of the Karrer Holdings building and a rezoning would be followed by approximately $500,000 in renovations.

More than a dozen Edison employees would be arriving, four of whom make up the company’s core team.

At the moment, Edison works in a tent-like structure in the backyard of CEO Chace Barber’s parents’ home.

Groff said that while many would consider Terrace to be an out-of-the-way location, its proximity to the port at Prince Rupert and ongoing rail connections places it in an advantageous position.

“For us, in the electric vehicle industry, our parts would come from China. Our parts would actually be closer, across the highway, than if we were in Vancouver,” he said.

Airline connections from the Northwest Regional Airport to and from the south are also convenient, Groff added.

Terrace realtor Rick McDaniel who is acting as the agent for Karrer Holdings said there has been only one company interested in the highway commercially-zoned property in the past five years.

“But they couldn’t get their project together,” he said. “But we’ve had multiple industrial uses for that property that the city has denied.”

McDaniel said he has been following Edison even before they appeared in Terrace and is impressed by their concept for a heavy haul electric hybrid.

And as a former logging truck driver, McDaniel said he is well aware of the potential.

“I can see a motor using electricity on the way up the mountain, especially the first trip in the morning, but once they come down that mountain, they’re going to be fully charged,” he said referencing using braking systems to produce battery power.

About the Author: Rod Link

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