At the Enchanted Forest tourist attraction near Revelstoke, Dave Mix looks into the camera as he strolls among the evergreens.
“This EV road trip is like a fairy tale,” says Mix, the BC Hydro employee who doubles as the spokesman for the taxpayer-owned utility. “All the way across the province, powered by clean energy. How magical is that?”
It is a scene from the four-part, $220,000 BC Hydro ad campaign in which Mix is depicted driving from Tofino to the Alberta border, to tout the virtues of electric vehicles. The campaign is part of the NDP minority government’s CleanBC climate strategy mandated by the confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.
But, based on BC Hydro documents that theBreaker.news obtained under the freedom of information law, Dave’s Clean Getaway road trip was more fairy tale than documentary.
For starters, Mix did not drive the electric car all the way from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the Rockies in a single trip. He took a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight from Vancouver International Airport to Tofino on April 28 and returned home on Air Canada from Nanaimo on April 30. He could have driven the electric vehicle onto a BC Ferry instead.
After the Vancouver to Kamloops leg, Mix returned May 8 to YVR via Air Canada. Five days later, on May 13, the journey resumed when Mix flew from Vancouver to Kamloops.
“Guys, I made it from Tofino to Yoho National Park, in an electric vehicle, no emissions and it cost me, um, about 30 bucks. I call that success,” Mix says victoriously near the end of the final video, which concludes at the Welcome to Alberta sign at the provincial border.
Mix did not do a U-turn in the BC Hydro-branded Chevy Bolt. Instead, he carried on to Calgary and flew back to Vancouver on Air Canada.
In reality, the trip cost much more than 30 bucks.
Mix’s expense report for the period totalled $3,250. His 1,452.2 kilometres in flights added up to 2.17 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to calculations using CarbonZero.ca. The driving distance from Tofino to the Alberta border (including the BC Ferry voyage Mix avoided) is 1,063 km.
“The optics become a bit two-faced, because on the one hand we’re preaching electric car energy consumption, and on the other hand we’re using one of the biggest squanderers of fossil fuels in the world: it’s called an airplane,” Lindsay Meredith, Simon Fraser University professor emeritus of marketing, told St. John Alexander and CTV News Vancouver.
It was not a solo trip. Mix was joined by an undisclosed number of video production contractors from Basetwo Media and Smak, and as many as four BC Hydro employees: communications advisor Chelsea Watt, marketing communication advisor Amy Huynh, marketing communications specialist Nicki Harris and advertising coordinator Kathryn MacDonald. The four submitted combined expense claims for more than $17,600, and were on some of the same flights as Mix.
Part of their spending included almost $1,200 to rent vehicles on Vancouver Island and in Kamloops from Budget Rent-A-Car, plus $209 in fuel.
BC Hydro spokeswoman Susie Rieder insisted that Mix drove each leg of the trip in the electric vehicle.
“Production of the campaign was done in legs, and therefore the BC Hydro employees involved (including Dave) did take flights back to Vancouver in between each leg,” Rieder said by email. “By doing this, we were able to significantly reduce overtime costs, as well as the time they were away from the office and their day-to-day work.
“If we had the team drive the entire route, they would have incurred significant overtime costs, additional costs for meals and hotels, productivity costs due to being out of the office for days at a time.”
Even the sleeping bag from part one appears to have been a mere prop.
MacDonald’s expense report shows it cost $44.82 at Wal-Mart in Burnaby on April 26. She returned it almost a month later on May 21 for $44.77.
“Purchased sleeping bag for EV road trip filming, but was able to return it,” the expense report stated. No explanation for the nickel deficit.
While Mix was shown in a tent on a campground with the electric car parked nearby, his expense report shows a $155.56 lodging charge from the Tofino Resort and Marina on April 28.
At least Mix’s surfing and canoeing were the real deal.
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