Would people share a car in Qualicum Beach? Ken Walker is asking that question in light of the massive growth in carshare programs.
Walker is a Qualicum Beach lawyer and Nanaimo CarShare member who thinks the idea could work well in the small, senior-oriented town.
He suggests many people may live within easy walking distance of the village centre, but occasionally need a car for a big shopping trip, or when their grandchildren visit.
He said he has two cars because his main car is a little sports car, but he also needs a bigger one to occasionally drive passengers around.
Walker also pointed out there isn’t a car rental office in Qualicum Beach, and there are many people who might like the convenience of occasional access to a car, without the cost and hassle of owning one.
And he adds “there are significant environmental benefits. There’s lots of statistics that show people plan their trips better when they have to pay as they go, people walk more, use transit more, bike more.”
“Every carshare car takes several cars off the road,” he said explaining there are an average of 20 members per carshare car which can impact things like urban planning and development. He even suggests developers could trade a carshare car and space in a new building for fewer required parking spaces, saving money and providing a service and environmental benefit.
And the carshare, or co-op concept is booming. Vancouver’s carshare group Modo, has more than 14,000 members sharing about 700 cars, where they can find the nearest car with a smartphone app and use it for a few dollars an hour.
“It’s not always cheaper than renting a car,” Walker said, suggesting if you want a car for several days or long trips, renting may be cheaper “but there are many benefits for shorter trips and it’s easier than renting a car for an hour.”
Rates are different for different types of members (casual, full, business) with a combination of hourly and kilometre charges. He gave the example of driving 15km over three hours costing a full member $15, while four hours and 70km would cost $35.
Walker admits it has mostly taken off in urban areas so far where the economy of scale means there is almost always a car available near wherever you are, but there are active programs in smaller places like Sechelt, Fernie, Kaslo, Nelson and Gibsons where more than 100 members share four cars.
Nanaimo CarShare currently has 40 members sharing two cars, with another in the works, and Walker said he joined partly because it gives him easy access to other programs and he’s used cars in Vancouver before, picking one up at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, easier than renting a car.
Coastal Community Credit Union even has a special deal on offering to pay half the membership cost for their members.
Walker will explain the idea further and gauge local interest in having a carshare in Qualicum Beach at an information session with coffee and cookies this Sunday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m. at Rotary House, at the corner of Fern and Beach roads. Visit nanaimocarshare.ca for more information.