People looking for an alternative to owning a second vehicle — or a first one for that matter — could explore the option of joining the Kootenay Carshare Cooperative. What started as an idea among friends in Nelson, now has 11 cars and over 100 members, with branches around the region, including Rossland.
“Our Rossland branch is just coming up to its one year anniversary,” said Ann Damude, who is a member and coordinator of the local operation. “The branch is really volunteer-driven and we pull together to make it work.”
Damude’s role includes recruitment, orientation for new members, washing the car, taking it for seasonal services and marketing.
Rossland has one car and 13 members. They raised funds and gathered members to qualify to get the first vehicle, a Toyota Matrix. The car is parked for easy access behind the Credit Union, in a spot reserved for it and provided by the City.
Rossland’s branch is striving to increase membership to make it more viable and is exploring switching from a standard to an automatic vehicle to attract more users. Discussions with members of the public raised the option of getting a truck.
“Our goal is to get a second vehicle,” said Damude. “For a carshare vehicle to be viable we really need it to be used four to six hours per day, seven days a week. We would look at where our members live and try to park the vehicle in a convenient location for them.”
“The beauty of a carshare is that it’s more economical than renting a car,” said Damude. “And, you can book it for two hours and only pay for the time you are using it. It’s very tailored to your needs.”
People scrapping a vehicle can apply to the B.C. Government’s Scrap-It program to get a credit that can be used towards a carshare membership.
Members also benefit by having access to the other Kootenay Carshare branches, and ones in Vancouver and Victoria.
It is estimated that for every Kootenay Carshare Cooperative car on the road, at least five private vehicles have been removed.
“Moving to carshare programs forces people to do things in a more sustainable, ecologically-friendly way,” said Damude, “even it fit might be less convenient. I find it interesting that the Nelson Cooperative says membership is up, but car use is down. People are actually using transit more. We see this as a good sign.”
Booking is done online on a first-come, first-served basis. Users pay a membership fee, rental and mileage fees. If the car is not available when a user wants it, a message goes out to the person who has booked it to see if there are any options.
“Carshare can be a really good option for small business or a self-employed person,” said Damude. “At the end of the month you get a statement that fits into standard bookkeeping. You don’t need to keep a log book.”
The car can be taken out of province and across the border, with a maximum 29-day booking allowance.
“We need an anchor member, like a business or municipality to book the vehicle a couple days a week,” said Damude. “There is strong interest out there, and we really want to hear from people.”
Rossland’s Kootenay Carshare project is an initiative of the Sustainability Commission Visions to Action’s Energy Task Force, chaired by Alex Loeb.
October is Carshare membership drive month. The $25 orientation fee for new members is waived.
Visit www.carsharecoop.ca or www.visionstoaction.ca to find out more. Ann Damude can be reached at (250) 362-5617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.