The City of Sault Ste. Marie is taking the next step in its mission to go green.

City council has asked staff to budget for the conversion of its gas-powered fleet vehicles to electric ones, with the first purchase to come in 2022.

"This certainly ties in with our greenhouse gas inventory and everything we're trying to do there," said Travis Anderson, the city's director of tourism and community development. "The recommendation to look at electric vehicles for our light fleet is just another one of those steps to make us a greener community."

There were some concerns brought forward by councillors around the impact of cold weather on the vehicles, citing the possibility of them losing range.

Anderson said that won't be much of a problem.

"We'll look into it, we're not overly concerned that it's going to impact the overall range," he said. "I mean we're seeing these vehicles operate all throughout Canada and elsewhere in Nordic countries."

Greenhouse gas emissions

Fleet vehicles account for 56 per cent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions, as reported in the city's greenhouse gas inventory last March.

At the time, Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Shoemaker introduced a motion asking staff to explore adding electric vehicles to reduce those emissions.

"So we bill ourselves as the alternative energy capital of North America, well in my opinion, it's time that we start acting like it," Shoemaker said.

To make the upgrades, the city will also need to add charging ports to city properties and other various infrastructure needs.

Shoemaker said doing it now would be more cost-effective anyway.

"It just makes sense to get ahead of the game because we're ultimately going to end up in a spot where we need these," he said, "May as well do it now when there's some funding available."

The city said the cost of adding the vehicles will be more significant upfront, but they will significantly reduce operational costs over a 10-year span.

Council has also directed staff to look into replacing its larger fleet vehicles and busses going forward.