City staff recommend Ottawa green light low-speed vehicles on city streets

The city of Ottawa is considering a pilot-project to allow Low-Speed Vehicles on City of Ottawa streets. (Photo courtesy: City of Ottawa)

Low-speed vehicles could soon have the green light to drive on Ottawa's roads.

A report for Wednesday's Transportation Committee meeting recommends the city approve a Low-Speed Vehicles (LSV) Pilot-Project.  

Staff say Purolator Courier has expressed an interest in testing low-speed vehicles in Ottawa, while Invest Ottawa anticipates its Area X.O. facility will become a testing ground for this vehicle.

Low-speed vehicles have been used in the past as golf carts or people movers in airport terminals, and retirement and resort communities.  A low-speed vehicle is capable of transporting people or goods safely, efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner," the report for councillors says. 

"However, innovations in battery and electric motor technologies are opening up new opportunities for the development of electric vehicles that can operate for longer periods of time, transport more goods and run more efficiently," says staff.

"As a result, a new class of vehicles is being developed to serve local transportation needs on a micro, or neighbourhood, level."

The Ontario government has launched a 10-year pilot project to evaluate the use of LSVs, and municipalities that wish to participate are required to enact a bylaw that permits the vehicles on city streets.

British Columbia allows "neighbourhood zero-emission vehicles" to operate on public roads under certain conditions, and Quebec allows low-speed vehicles. Current commercial cargo versions of the LSV have an operating range of between 80 to 200 kilometres, depending on battery size configuration.

If the city of Ottawa approves a Low-Speed Vehicle Pilot Project, the following regulations would be in place:

  • LSV can only operate on roads with a speed limit of up to 50 km/h
  • LSV must be electric and have four wheels
  • LSV must have a maximum speed of between 32 and 40 km
  • Must include a slow-moving vehicle sign at the rear of the vehicle
  • No sidecars or trailers permitted for use on an LSV.

Additionally, the driver of an LSV must have a full G class driver's licence, have automobile insurance and must not carry a child passenger younger than eight years old.

City staff say any operator of an LSV wanting to deploy in Ottawa will be required to provide information to the city, including location/routes, dates, times and operating conditions.

LSVs in Ottawa

The report states Invest Ottawa has told the city of Ottawa it anticipates its Area X.O. facility will become a testing ground for LSVs, "and that providing 'real world' testing environments in Ottawa will be an economic driver for the region."

Staff say one company has already approached Invest Ottawa seeking to test LSVs both within the private test facility and on local city streets next spring.

Purolator Courier also has its eyes on an LSV on Ottawa roads.

Staff say Purolator Courier has been testing a low-speed vehicle in Montreal, and has expressed an interest in expanding the LSV testing program to Ottawa.