B.C.’s rollout of a new e-bike rebate program appears to have suffered the electronic equivalent of a flat tire during its first spin out of the gate.
Starting Thursday (June 1), British Columbians can claim up to $1,400 toward their purchases of e-bikes depending on their incomes without having to scrap their cars. But the site experienced technical difficulties that appear to have been fixed by early afternoon.
Environment Minister George Heyman acknowledged the technical difficulties during an unrelated announcement, when asked whether the province had underestimated interest in the program.
“I don’t think we have underestimated it, but perhaps we need to work on our technology infrastructure a little bit.”
He added that e-bikes are an important part of B.C.’s transportation future in getting people out of cars and the opportunity to move in different ways.
The new rebate program is worth $6 million, but comes with a catch. The top rebate of $1,400 is only available to British Columbians who earn less than $38,950.
According to 2021 Statistics Canada, B.C. is home to about 1.48 million people 15 years and older who earn less than $40,000, meaning that about one-third of British Columbians could be eligible for the top rate.
That means most people are either eligible for the $1,000 rebate if their income falls between $38,951 and $51,130. Most residents will only be eligible for the $350 rebate as they earn more than $51,131.
Under the expiring system, all British Columbians were eligible for $750, but on the condition of scrapping their car if it qualifies. That requirement is now gone under the new program.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a statement that applications for the rebate program opened at 8:00 a.m.
By 8:30 a.m., the site had received almost 1,650 submissions.
“The traffic to the site overwhelmed the servers and caused the site to go down for 16 minutes,” it reads. “The website is back up and anyone who wants to make an application can now do so.”
The statement adds that BC Scrap-It Society, which administers the programs, is working to ensure the portal remains open as the program continues to be popular.