Car Share

20,000 people in Canada are part of car share initiatives. Citizens share a fleet of 700 cars in Montreal. Twelve Canadian cities, including Winnipeg have car shares. 

On Tuesday night I attended a meeting for residents of Winnipeg’s Exchange District about car sharing. Beth MacKenzie from the Peg City Car Co-op explained how their organization works. They own three cars which are parked at different spots in the Osborne area. People who have memberships in their co-op can register and pay online to reserve the cars.  A special electronic key fob lets them into the car and when they finish using the car they return it to the parking spot. Safeway has donated space for parking two of the cars on their grocery store lots in the area. 

Although people pay $500 to join the co-op and 40 cents per kilometer and $3 per hour to use the cars, they still save plenty of money compared to owning and maintaining their own cars. The $500 is refunded when you leave the co-op. Co-op staff makes sure the cars are clean, full of gas and serviced. 

Car sharing is for people who like to walk, take the bus or bike but occasionally need a car. It can also be for families who have only one car, but from time to time need two cars. A short CBC documentary about car sharing says many developers of condominiums and apartments are now giving a car share membership to people who buy units in their buildings. They provide a car to share and reserve spaces in their parking lots for the car share vehicles. 

There are 89 members in the Peg Car Share Co-op in the Osborne area which first began operating in June of 2011.  If we want to have our own co-op here in the Exchange District we would need at least thirty interested people to get started with one car.  To become a member you must be 21, have had a clean driving record for 3 years and no DUI charges. All drivers go through an orientation to familiarize them with the car co-op and there are penalties for not returning the car on time. 

Although in 90% of cases cars are reserved within four hours of being used, you can reserve them up to thirty days ahead of time.  An added bonus is that the Car Share Co-op has a deal with a car rental agency for a 15% discount for co-op members if they need to rent cars for longer trips. Beth MacKenzie from the Peg Car Share showed us videos about some of their users; an artist who uses the car to pick up canvases, someone who reserves the car to go and visit his parents in the suburbs, go out on dates and buy groceries and a woman who decided to car share rather than purchase a vehicle so she could save money to buy a house. 

I think car sharing is a great idea, not only is it economical but it is a way to do our part to reduce emissions that contribute to air pollution. According to Car Sharing Canada each vehicle in a car share co-op replaces eight private cars on the road.  As they say on the Halifax Car Share site –car sharing is lean, green and easy!

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Filed under Nature, Travel, Winnipeg

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