The first membership drive for Community CarShare was a promising start on the road to creating a car-sharing program in Peterborough.

The local environmental organization Green-Up, along with other community organizers, hosted a membership drive and information night about Community CarShare on November 14.  The turnout produced about 40 potential members, including the  first corporate member, Cambium Environmental. A minimum of 100 members is needed to start the car-sharing program in Peterborough and there will be more membership drives taking place in the near future.

Community CarShare got its start in 1998 in Kitchener-Waterloo when ten friends started sharing a car. Since then, the non-profit co-op has expanded to over 750 members in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and Hamilton. Jason Hammond, the president of CarShare, hopes to add Peterborough to that list.

Th e benefits to car sharing include reducing transportation and personal insurance costs, reducing congestion and pollution, and convenience. For businesses, car sharing provides a  fleet of cars without the responsibility of maintenance and insurance fees.

Cars are not the social tools they used to be. We no longer see people socially cruising downtown streets and hanging out in drive-in diners. Cars have become more about convenience and transportation needs. However, sometimes these needs can be costly, especially for those who only need to use a car occasionally.

Options for occasional car use include taking taxis or renting a car. Car sharing adds another option for occasional drivers-It is certainly a cheaper alternative to buying a car.  The way Hammond looks at it, why buy the cow when all you need is a glass of milk?

There are three types of plans for regular Community CarShare members, and each plan is designed to work with different levels of car usage needs. All memberships include insurance, gas, and maintenance fees. Hourly rates are as low as $1/hour and rates vary depending on the length of use and time of day. Corporate memberships sometimes include a parking space. In exchange, a CarShare car is named after the business.

As a co-op, CarShare provides members with access to cars in all of the CarShare cities. So, if you lived in Peterborough but were visiting someone in Kitchener, you could use CarShare cars during your stay. Being part of a co-op is a lifestyle choice. You have to know when you’re bringing the car back, you have to leave the car clean, and you can’t smoke in the car. People can lose their membership if they don’t cover their fees or if they damage the cars, but Hammond says this hasn’t been an issue.

In order to become a member, drivers also need to have a full G license, a mostly clean driving record, and must be 21 or over.  ese requirements help provide a low-risk group of drivers.  The age minimum unfortunately bars most undergraduate students from becoming members, but CarShare is still an option for students over the age of 21.

Hammond says that there is the potential for Fleming College and Trent University to become members if there is an interest, as Community CarShare has post-secondary institutions as members in several of their locations.  There can be benefits for both students and faculty, who may  find access to a car convenient during breaks between classes or for  field trips.

At a university like Trent, which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown, students living on or near campus might like the convenience of having a car to use for grocery shopping, going out at night, and visiting off-campus friends.

The drive to establish a CarShare branch in Peterborough will continue to be supported by Green-Up.  The company will play a role in promotion, hosting membership drives and information nights, and helping Hammond to network with the Peterborough community.

If a CarShare base is set up in Peterborough, parking spaces will most likely be in the East City and in the downtown area, however, the greater the demand, the greater the amount of cars and parking spaces that will be provided.

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When Jasmine was a child, she could almost always been found with a notebook and pen in hand, writing away. As an adult, she has written for a variety of magazines and websites, including the art magazine Juxtapoz. She was the 2010 winner of a blogging contest put on by the publishing house JournalStone. JournalStone also published two of her short fiction stories in their horror anthologies in 2010 and 2011. When she’s not writing, Jasmine spends a good chunk of her time completing her history degree and working as a professional dance performer and instructor.