EV Car Charging

8 Best Toronto Area Places to Charge An Electric Car (And the Worst)

Driving an electric car (or EV) requires that you have near-constant access to charging locations. Thankfully, this improves every day, but the infrastructure is still in its infancy. As a driver in the General Toronto, Ontario Area (GTA), I have found some really great locations to charge from. If you depend on chargers outside of your home, here are some locations you’ll love – and one you’ll want to avoid.

1. Rogers – 550 Cochrane Dr, Markham, ON
Located at the intersection of highways 404 and 407 (near Woodbine and Hwy 7), you’ll find four independent Chargepoint stations in the parking lot of an unmarked building. Word is that this is a Rogers datacentre, but whoever decided to create this wonderfully accessible location, I salute you. This is a great jumping-off point if you drive in from one of the many suburbs. There are three chargers on-site.

Cost to charge: Free (no parking fees)
Coffee and WiFi: Walk across the street to the Park Inn – the attached restaurant serves coffee, breakfast and Wifi is free. The only thing missing is a place to plug in your laptop.

2. Element Vaughan – 6170 Hwy 7, Vaughn, ON
A newly built area, this block is filled with amenities. You’ll find two Chargepoint chargers (and three EV parking spots) in the northeast section of the Element hotel parking lot. Situated right at Hwy 7 and Hwy 27, you can use this location as a way to regroup before heading back home, or out to the next leg of your trip. Access to 407, 427, 27 and 401 are all within reach of this point.

Cost to charge: $2.00 per hour (no parking fees)
Coffee and WiFi: In the same complex is a McDonalds (across the parking lot). Coffee, free Wi-Fi and lots of power outlets to charge your electronics.

3. Parliament/Queens Quay – 200 Queens Quay E, Toronto, ON
A real hidden gem right now, this location is within walking distance of King and Queen Sts, as well as the downtown core. What this appears to be is a new condo development office. They’ve had the forethought to include one charging spot-on location, and when the building is constructed, this may become more spots. The location is great, and free parking is a bonus.

Cost to charge: $5 to activate charger (no parking fees)
Coffee and WiFi: No close access, but Tim Hortons and Starbucks are a 10-minute walk away

4. Evergreen BrickWorks – 550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, Ontario
Possibly one of the oldest charger installations, this spot is a great central community location. Given the highway access and proximity to the city, this can be a good one-stop charging location. Often when I’m at this location, another car (possibly hybrid electric) is parked in one of the two available spots. My guess is this is a person who works on-site. The four possible chargers are almost never completely working (leaving two on). This is a great spot that could be a community leader by making several more charging spots available and gathering that energy via solar charge.

Cost to charge: Free ($6/day parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: Free Wi-Fi throughout, charging outlets, and access to food and coffee.

5. Tim Hortons – 1098 Thompson Rd S, Milton, ON
If you’re in the west end, you can’t go wrong with this location. The chargers are in a very clearly marked area, and access to a full Tim Hortons restaurant is right there. The hope is that Tim Hortons continues to expand this network of offerings. I will be contacting them in the near future for comment.

Cost to charge: Free (no parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: Coffee and seating are onsite. WiFi is free in Tim Hortons.

6. O’Neil Electric Supply Limited – 85 Progress Ave, Scarborough, ON
My use of this location is generally after hours because it’s a business. But, it has saved my bacon more than a couple of times. The charger is situated reasonably close to the highway, and a coffee shop is within walking distance. During the day, I’d expect that an employee is on-site charging his/her vehicle.

Cost to charge: Free (no parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: A Tim Hortons is a short walk west to William Kitchen Rd. WiFi is free in the coffee shop with places to sit down. Outlets are not in abundance.

7. Markville Mall GO Station – 320 Bullock Dr, Unionville, ON
Located on the second floor of GO’s large parking complex, drivers here seem to highly respect these two electric charging spots and leave them free. The

Cost to charge: Free (no parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: A Tim Hortons and food court are located in the mall across the street. Free wifi is possible (at least) at the Apple Store in the mall. Very little access to laptop charging outlets.

8. Vaughn Mills – 6170 Hwy 7, Vaughn, ON
Located just outside the doors at entrance 4, these four charging spots are a contentious issue. If you get into the parking lot before 5 pm, you should find a free place to change. After 5-m, all bets appear to be off, and it isn’t uncommon to see all spots filled with gas cars.

Cost to charge: Free (no parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: The mall has a rather seizable food court with access to seating and coffee. I don’t think this location has any sort fo free WiFi.

And the worst:

Bridgepoint Health – 14 St Matthews Rd, Toronto, ON
How do you know an electric vehicle charger installation is an afterthought? Bridgepoint Health gives us an indication of that. There is a row of 8 chargers located in the underground parking, but they’re all close to the parking complex exit or handicap. As you’d expect, everyone coming to this health center wants to park close to the door. Every single time I entered this complex, all available spots were filled with gas cars. What spots weren’t blocked were handicapped. Making matters worse, the chargers are only low-powered, so you’ll stay longer and be guaranteed to pay that full $30 parking fee. The wall of chargers should be backed by a gas car advertisement. That’s a guaranteed uptick in sales for a car dealer.

Cost to charge: Free ($30/day parking fee)
Coffee and WiFi: Located on Gerrard, across the street you’ll find a small Tim Hortons with some seating. If you’re stuck in the grind of downtown, the location can’t be beaten – making this even more painful.

Naturally, this list is heavy on eastern Toronto-area locations. These are characters that I’ve tried and returned to because they’ve been highly useful and reliable. If you’re an EV driver and know of any great (or bad) locations, I’d love to hear about them. Share them in the comments and tell us why.