College students go green

Whether it is out of necessity or simply a choice, many Kootenay region citizens hitch a ride at some time or other.

Whether it is out of necessity or simply a choice, many Kootenay region citizens hitch a ride at some time or other. For many it is an informal situation: a request posted on a forum, a shout-out at the airport, or asking a friend or family member for a favour. But, four Selkirk College students from Rossland and Trail have chosen to make it a formal arrangement for their entire school year — carpooling five days a week to Castlegar.

The four students are all in the Integrated Environmental Planning diploma program at Selkirk College. It’s a five days- a week commitment. They work around each other’s schedules and have tailored a commuting plan that works for all of them.   Each person drives for one out of every three weeks, and the fourth member pays for gas.

Rossland’s Kailyn Nelson said, “I don’t have my own car, so I use a family vehicle when it’s my turn to drive. If I didn’t have this carpool, I would have had to buy a car.”

Spencer Kaspick lives in Trail and the carpool picks him up at a designated location.

“My gas costs about $80 to $90 a week,” said Kaspick. “So I’m saving about $160 a month in gas.  It also means less oil changes and less wear and tear on my vehicle.”

“That we’re saving time, money and probably the environment are major incentives and rewards,” said Nelson.

Josie Barker doesn’t have a vehicle, so she contributes by paying for gas.

“It’s cheaper than the bus, which can be as much as $4.00 a day,” said Barker. “It takes two busses each way to get to Selkirk from Rossland.  Environmentally, this is important to me.”

“We’re all looking for ways to save money,” said Barker. “It’s just so much cheaper and more efficient than the bus.”

“It’s a lot easier and you don’t have to drive both ways every day,” said Nelson, who sees it as just part of their lives that revolve around concern for the environment.

“Even though I don’t have a class in green transportation,” said Nelson. “Everything is instilled. Everyday we discuss what we’re putting into the environment.”

The group emphasized it’s important to have a fair schedule and be flexible.  Some weeks it just doesn’t work for the designated driver. Some days someone might have to start early or leave the college late.

“Communication is big,” said Kaspick. “You have to have everyone’s phone numbers. And, ideally, you have to enjoy the people who you drive with.”

Melissa LaFace is their fourth member.

They aren’t unique at the college. The college has a ride share board to help people connect. The carpooling experience has impressed this group of student and they say they will look for opportunities to continue carpooling after they finish their program.

For West Kootenay residents looking to share rides or carpool,  the Kootenay Rideshare website provides a  way to request or post opportunities to ride share. On one day alone people were looking for rides to Vancouver, Calgary, Greenwood and Golden. And, others had posted opportunities for a ride share to similar destinations.

To find out more on sustainable transportation initiatives in the Kootenays, visit the Rossland Sustainability Commission website at, Kootenay Ride Share at or Kootenay Carshare Co-op at




Ann Damude

Communications for Rossland

Sustainability Commission

250-362-5617 or