Car sharing program proposed for Brandon

Initiative would allow public to rent vehicle on a temporary basis for inner-city travel and specific tasks.

Although the idea is in its infancy, the City of Brandon is investigating the potential for operating a car-sharing program as part of its environmental impact strategy.

The city’s Environmental Committee hosted a public workshop on the topic on Oct. 20 in the Brandon Cultural Resource Centre. Christian Brandt, a representative from Purppl carshare in Kelowna, B.C., shared his knowledge about the subject while City of Brandon representatives measured interest in the proposal.

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The Brandon Environmental Committee is studying the feasibility of establishing a service that would rent vehicles for people who require transportation on a temporary basis or need a larger vehicle for a specific task. The car-share would operate as a cooperative, with members paying an annual fee to rent the vehicles at a lower rate, while non-members would pay higher rental fees.

Brandon’s Environmental Initiatives Coordinator Lindsay Hargreaves says the program would provide a less expensive option to owning a car or a second family vehicle, minimizes the use of already-owned cars, comes with less hassle than renting a car from an agency and reduces the city’s overall environmental footprint.

“We’re really just planting seeds right now,” Hargreaves said. “We (The Environmental Committee) have a meeting coming up to discuss what we learned at the workshop and we’ll see what different options we may have if we want to pursue it in the future.”

Hargreaves said city representatives and other key stakeholders showed some interest in the project when presented the idea the day before Brandt made his public presentation. Brandt helped develop a similar initiative called “PegCity Carshare” in Winnipeg.

“It’s not ride sharing and it’s not like a car pool,” Hargreaves said. “If anything, it helps families who have downsized to one vehicle, but periodically need a bigger vehicle for shopping or some other task. Or it’s for a student who may be moving and needs a truck. It’s just another option in a household’s transportation toolkit. It would be used instead of having to rent a vehicle for a whole day.”

Although very early in the development process, Hargreaves believes the idea will be more widely accepted once it is explained further and people get to see what the program looks like.

“There are different trends coming on stream in the transportation sector that this would be a good complement to,” she said. “It may be something we would run on a small scale here in Brandon. There are some early adopters, but I think once implemented, more people will jump on board. Some people have to physically see it before they commit to doing it.”

For more information about Brandon’s environmental initiatives, visit brandonenvironment.ca.

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