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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

It’s always better to share: The Community CarShare Program

Parents everywhere have been teaching their kids the universal lesson: it’s always better to share.  Yet somehow, as we grow up and grow older, we tend to forget that lifelong lesson.  It becomes an increasing drive to have things that are yours and yours alone.  And while having something that belongs solely to you can be good (like a pair of pants), it’s not always the best model.  A growing number of people are learning that sharing can work with all sorts of things, including cars.

Recent years have seen an influx of car-sharing programs in the GTHA.  AutoShare, Zipcar and Car2Go have become vastly more popular, allowing tens of thousands of members access to vehicles without the expense, hassle and added environmental impact of individual vehicle ownership.  But before any of these programs showed up in Ontario, there were 10 friends in Kitchener-Waterloo with a car and a dream.  And from that dream, Community CarShare was born.

Formed in 1998 by 10 people with one car, Community CarShare was the very first car-sharing program in Ontario.  It quickly grew to 2 cars and 20 people by 1999, and has been expanding rapidly ever since.  In 2009, the program expanded to Hamilton, the result of a group of Hamiltonians that were interested in starting a car share and were surprised to find out that one had been operating successfully in Kitchener-Waterloo for 11 years.  Community CarShare facilitated the development of the Hamilton CarShare program, and the first expansion of the program was born.

Community CarShare’s Honda Civic Hybrid – helping you drive a little bit greener.

Since its founding in 1998, Community CarShare has grown to include a fleet of 23 vehicles, with 18 in Waterloo Region and 5 in Hamilton.  The fleet is primarily made up of small, fuel-efficient vehicles, but also includes 3 vehicles that are a bit outside the norm.  A Honda Civic Hybrid brings a bit more green to the fleet, and the fully electric Mitsubishi I-Miev provides users with the option to drive completely emissions free.  For users that need a bit more space for hauling cargo, the fleet also includes a fuel-efficient Ford Transit cargo vehicle.  For a one-time membership fee, members gain access to vehicles throughout the Community Car Share network, from Waterloo Region to Hamilton and, in the coming months, into Niagara Region, where a 3-vehicle launch is expected sometime in the near future.

Community CarShare’s Toyota Matrix – this small, fuel efficient hatchback is the workhorse of the fleet.

The Community CarShare model is different than a lot of other car-share programs because it is based on a non-profit co-op model, which means that any profits made are then put back into the program in the form of new vehicle acquisitions.  Where it is similar to most programs is how members access the vehicles.  So members pay either a monthly or an annual fee, and then pay an hourly rate to rent the vehicle of their choice.  Included in the hourly rental rate is gas and maintenance, so you never have to worry about filling the tank or changing the oil.  You reserve your vehicle online or over the phone, pick it up at the time you’ve booked, use it, and then drop it back off once you’re done.  Easy!

Community CarShare’s Ford Transit Cargo vehicle, for those trips to the furniture store where a car just won’t do.

And in addition to having access to the vehicles in the Community CarShare fleet, you also have access to some great partner deals, like discounts on Via Rail and access to cheaper memberships to AutoShare in Toronto and Vrtucar in Ottawa.  Using all the great partner deals really opens up a world of transportation options, like touring around the Waterfalls of Hamilton before hopping on the Go Bus to go to Union Station in Toronto to catch a Via Rail train to Ottawa, where you can then pick up a Vrtucar vehicle and go touring around some of the beautiful countryside near our nation’s capital.  It’s a vision of a transportation future where not every person needs to own a car, a future where trips are planned and thought about rather than simply instinctual.  It looks like more money in your pocket at the end of every month, fewer trips to the gas station and never worrying about a several-thousand dollar repair bill.  I think that all looks pretty good, and I hope that a few of you agree enough to go out and get a membership to one of the great car sharing organizations near you.

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  1. My Sustainable Day-Cation in Mississauga Day 5: Going Car Free in Mississauga | Clean Air Partnership - October 19, 2012

    […] those of you not familiar with car-sharing, you should check out my article here. The gist of it is that you pay an hourly rate to rent a vehicle whenever you need it. It means […]

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    […] those of you not familiar with car-sharing, you should check out my article here. The gist of it is that you pay an hourly rate to rent a vehicle whenever you need it. It means […]

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