While it is easy to complain about problems, it is always refreshing to see viable solutions offered and put into practise.
Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative is quietly doing just that.
Transportation is one of the most expensive aspects to living in the Western world, both to our pocketbooks and the planet.
Yet, living without an automobile can often be impossible.
Families sometimes share one or more vehicles, saving money and centralizing the responsibility for maintenance.
In Europe, this principal was extended into neighbourhoods, and is called “car sharing”. When one needs a car, it is booked and driven away.
The simplicity and thriftiness of car sharing is catching on in North America.
Why? Because of the rapidly rising cost of operating a motor vehicle (cars cost a whopping $8,000 to $12,000 annually).
Owning a car is financially beyond what many people can afford. With car sharing, all one needs to do is book it and use it for an hour or two, or even a day or two.
Van-couver’s non-profit Modo is the world’s first English-speaking car share co-op, and after only 15 years of operation it boasts about 250 vehicles and thousands of members.
So successful has the operation been, two for-profit car sharing companies have also jumped into that market.
Nanaimo’s non-profit car share co-op is only just one year old and yet it has now added a second vehicle to its fleet, a 2009 Pontiac Vibe hatchback.
Parked right downtown, it is easily accessed by businesses and individuals from Protection and Gabriola islands, and those living nearby.
The first vehicle, a 2009 Nissan Versa hatchback, is now parked close to the Prideaux Street transit exchange in the Old City Quarter. This means anybody able to catch the bus to downtown has easy access to this, or both, vehicles.
Typical invoices, including gas, insurance, maintenance and licensing, average less than $100/month – a far cry from private ownership.
Members likely enjoy better health as they tend to also use other methods to get around. Additionally, car sharing reduces air pollution, congestion, and now greenhouse gas emission charges paid by our municipal government.
The co-op’s motto is an apt one: Share, Save, Simplify. More information can be obtained by visiting their website at: www.nanaimocarshare.ca or by calling 250-741-4141.
Ian Gartshore chairs the non-profit Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island.