Christian Brandt says Kelowna’s new car share co-op program is a membership-driven operation. And he’s not just talking people driving its cars.
Brandt, who saw his dream of establishing the first car-share program in the city realized Wednesday with the launch of the Okanagan Car Share Co-op, said now it is up to the public to buy memberships if they want to see it expand into more areas of the city.
“We can only expand as new members sign up,” he said.
He said if groups of 20 or more get together and buy memberships is a given area, the co-op wil look at placing a vehicle here. He said areas where interest has already been expressed include Glenmore, Rutland, the Mission and in the Landmark Square technology campus area just off Harvey Avenue.
The car share co-op launched Wednesday with two vehicles,both of which are currently parked downtown in spaces provided by the city. It’s first vehicles are a hydrid Toyota Prius, paid for in part by a $17,000 donation from Interior Savings Credit Union, and a Nissan Versa, contributed to the program by Urban Systems.
On Wednesday, local MP Ron Cannan said the federal government is giving the program $29,600 to help with its stat-up costs.
Brandt said to date the co-op has 35 members, all of whom paid a refundable $500 membership fee. The cost of “borrowing” a car is $3 per hour and 45 cents per kilometre. There is a $3 booking fee that only applies for the first four bookings made by a member in a single month.
Brandt said when he came to Kelowna 18 months ago, his dream was to establish what he called a sustainable transportation system here, something he said is now closer to reality with the launch of the car share co-op.
But while he was being praised for his work getting the car share co-op up and running, he credited the co-op members, who he said believed in the plan even before it had a car on the road, as well as the public, private and corporate partners who have helped fund the program to date.
Mayor Walter Gray, who was on hand for the launch, urged the public to support the program saying despite Kelowna’s abundance of agricultural land, the city has become one of the most “car-centric” cities in the country.
“This program makes good environmenal sense,” he said.
Angela Nagy, who helped Brandt establish the car share co-op here, said part of the work OGO, as it has dubbed itself, plans to do is monitor the impact it is having on the local environment. She said it plans to keep track of how many cars it helps take off local roads and how much pollution it helps eradicate.
The program offers co-op members who need a car for a short length of time an opportunity to one without the expense of paying to buy and operate a vehicle themselves.
Based on successful car share programs in other cities in Canada, Brandt said organizers here were helped by car share co-op officials is larger cities like Vancouver and Winnipeg.