By contributor Chantelle Spicer

It’s all about balance. How many times have you heard someone say this recently? Whether it’s school versus personal life, a salad versus a bag of chips for lunch, or any other balancing acts that life throws at us, it can feel impossible to find harmony sometimes.

The City of Nanaimo holds a key that may help its citizens find some balance in the search for sustainability in their lives: driving a car.

We know cars are one of the major producers of CO2. Multiply that by over a billion cars on the road today, and it can be hard to justify a trip to Tofino or even a drive across town. So where is the balance?

The Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative joins thousands of similar programs worldwide

by assisting residents who need to get from point A to B without adding another private vehicle to the roadways. According to The Economist, for every CarShare vehicle in use, 15 vehicles can be taken off the road. This is possible when a member-owned fleet of cars is available for use during a block of time from one hour to a full day.

Car owners are often unaware of how much time their vehicles spend parked at home or work. Each member without a car sitting in their driveway reduces their own carbon footprint.

The CarShare lifestyle is an alternative to public transit. It also reduces each individual’s expenses, like the fixed costs that come with owning a car. Members buy into the fleet with a refundable, one-time membership fee that contributes to insurance, maintenance, repairs, gas, roadside assistance, and cleaning.

Recognizing these benefits, along with many other social and community benefits, the Coastal Community Credit Union recently awarded the Nanaimo CarShare  Cooperative $10k through the “Building Healthier Communities Fund.” This will help the cooperative work towards their goals for expansion of the fleet.

The City of Nanaimo has also recognized the benefits of car sharing as part of a sustainable transportation system, when coupled with use of public transportation.

Nanaimo CarShare hopes to expand enough to place two cars in every neighbourhood to provide better access to members. One of these neighbourhoods includes Nanaimo’s VIU Campus. The idea is in its infancy, but offers some exciting potential to the student body. Angelina McNamee, who is attempting to make this dream a reality, has been reaching out to students through a new club at VIU.

During their first meeting on October 23, information was shared about the program itself, globally and here in Nanaimo, as well as the direction of the club itself. Having a club on campus is the first step. “There needs to be a show of high demand for a car on campus, as well as a show of solid support for the concept of car sharing from VIU before [the CarShare] could even begin the process of securing funds in order to purchase a vehicle,” McNamee says.

Nanaimo isn’t the only community with a blooming interest in car sharing. As of 2013, 20 Canadian organizations had over 141 thousand members sharing 3432 cars. That represents a 53.4 percent increase in just one year. Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 million members sharing 43.5 thousand vehicles.  This movement, globally and locally, could lead to a complete overhaul in the way our local economies are run and supported. Sustainable public transportation systems, as well as how we view the role our automobiles have in all areas of our lives, play an important part in that.

For information about becoming a member of the VIU CarShare Club and offering your support, please contact Angelina at You’ll find more information on the Nanaimo CarShare Cooperative website.

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